Anniversary of the SUNY Oneonta Protest

Nov. 11, 2016, the people of Oneonta gathered together to protest the values of the President-elect, The Odyssey.

Kevin Toress-Jurado, Culture Editor |

It was pretty cloudy that day. I remember sitting on my friend’s couch, in his common room, contemplating. There was not really anything to contemplate over. Too much had been said, too much had been done, all for the sake of that day. But there I was, afraid that something was going to go wrong an hour before it was going to happen.

My fear was overwhelming, but for some reason there was a song that kept playing in my head. It was a church song that would always play when my family and I would attend the Good Friday mass service. “Were you There (When You Crucified My Lord)” an American Spiritual most likely made by African-American slaves in the 19th Century kept playing in my head. I decided to search the song up on my phone and listen to it.

As the first words were being sung, I started to cry. I was hit with the nostalgia of having been a kid that listened to the choir lady sing that song, with the realization of the situation we were all in. It all hit me hard when I heard the music.

I remember not being able to fully let it out, as there were some people sleeping in the room. As the song continued, I kid you not, the clouds parted, the drizzle stopped, and the sun came out. The sun came out with such a force that within seconds, I wasn’t warm, I was hot. I felt warmth all over my once cold body, and I started a mixture of laughter, disbelief, and tears. I wondered if Malcolm ever felt like this. I wondered if Martin ever did. All I knew, or felt like I was sure of, was that we were doing the right thing.

On November 11, 2016, we protested. More than 200 people came together, some students, faculty, townies, and others from out of town. It was a good three hours of us marching around in a circle, shouting chants in unison, making our voices be heard, literally, all over campus.

There were a lot of people upset with us. Most of them were Trump supporters who called us snowflakes, losers, and children – children who did not understand what it means to be in the real world. And then there were people who were upset that we decided to protest on Veteran’s Day, calling us unpatriotic, selfish, and ignorant; but they did not understand that our Veteran’s fought for the right to protest among other basic rights and liberties.

I remember some who opposed what we were doing standing in front of us, staring. I remember a student who opposed us, as he stood on top of a table and called all of us protestors “faggots.” He told us to get over ourselves.

It seems that people just did not understand as to why we decided to protest. We weren’t protesting the results of the election. On the contrary, we realized that our current President won fair and square. He was voted in just like every other president before him. We protested because we wanted to show our campus that we were not afraid, that we weren’t going to stay quiet.

The President-elect, along with his supporters, have been spewing racist, hateful, and dangerous rhetoric, and we remain adamant about showing the campus that this is wrong and will be challenged. That day, we showed the campus that we could come together, and I think for some people, that made them afraid.

It’s been a year since that protest. I wonder if people remember that day. I wonder if that day gave them strength, or made them feel safe on this campus.

It’s been a year and I honestly can’t believe it. We’ve got a president that is still talking wild. And we still have racists in our country getting bolder by the day. I’m not surprised that we’re still in this state. I’m just stating facts. People are just slowly letting this all happen to us, slowly becoming more complacent by the day. I hate it. But what am I to do. What are we to do?

I’m drowning in class work, personal work, troubles, and worries. I feel as if I got the torch passed down to me too young, but I know it’s too early to give it up just yet. I know that there’s a lot of work to be done. I know that there’s still a lot we must do. And it will be done. I just have to finish college first.

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