Video: Rally for Justice at Towson University

Video: Rally for Justice at Towson University

In the final stages of editing, I invited a professor to give me feedback on the video. The music could be adjusted to a lower volume, one video transition was a bit distracting, and the ending had to be stronger. Besides these minor adjustments he liked it and then asked me, "So are you going to upload it to YouTube?" The weight of that question hit me like a ton of bricks.

The entire narrative of the video centered around an important theme of activism that challenges students to do more than passively advocate for social justice. Ignacio Evans, who enters the video at 1:42, tackles this passive advocacy that has been intensified through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. "We must have more than just heavy hearts today, we must have action," says Evans.

So, why upload this video to YouTube? It's important to recognize that social media is a powerful force that can spread information in seconds on a global scale. However, it's extremely important to have a core group of activists to spread information in a variety of others ways; the most powerful being local organizing and face-to-face communication.

The video was uploaded to YouTube not to be shared with thousands of people, but to show Towson students that there is a group on campus that meets, talks about issues of social justice, and takes decisive steps in addressing them. Against the backdrop of a relatively apathetic campus and an ineffective university administration that glosses over issues of race, the Activist Coalition of Towson (ACT) exists to create a space for students who live in silent struggle. ACT exists out of anger, fear, and frustration that our voices are still being marginalized on campus even as the administration attempts to create diversity task forces and holds meaningless forums.

In my four years here, no task force and no forum has made students feel safer on campus. I would like to think that the university administration and the SGA have my interests at heart, but their actions lack substance and their bark has no bite. So, naturally I turned to students who shared similar experiences and felt empowered to work with one another to begin to "organize and agitate", as Heber Brown says near the end of the video. We began to meet regularly on Mondays and Thursdays as a think tank to fight injustices that were both present on and off campus.

I uploaded that video to YouTube to show that we do not appreciate how this campus has dealt with the Youth for Western Civilization (a student group spreading racist messages on campus). I uploaded that video to express our solidarity with victims who are ignored and left in isolation. I uploaded that video to reach students who we have not been able to invite to our meetings. And most importantly, I uploaded that video as a glimpse of student power and our ability to fight.

These are not radical words, but words that speak to our commitment to diversity. The Tiger diversity statements reads, “Towson University values diversity and fosters a climate that is grounded in respect and inclusion, enriches the educational experience of students, supports positive workplace environments, promotes excellence, and cultivates the intellectual and personal growth of the entire university community.” This commitment has not been fulfilled. This is why ACT exists. And that is why I uploaded that video to YouTube.

Glenn Daniels Jr is a senior at Towson University majoring in Anthropology and Cultural Studies. His interests include audiovisual and multimedia production, visual anthropology, social movements, tackling issues of race, and "organizing and agitating." He can be reached at glenndanielsjr[at]gmail.com and on Twitter @lemonsandkiwi.