Human Rights

Last Friday, Harvard students premiered the on-stage performance “I, Too, Am Harvard,” as part of the 16th annual Doctor Walter J. Leonard Black Arts Festival. It came after black students within the Harvard community launched a Tumblr photography campaign in the weeks leading up to the play to raise their voices on the issue of racism on the Cambridge campus. The photos featured black Harvard students holding up signs that read different quotes that they have heard or been the target of while attending the University. The website, and in turn, the play, raised enormous discussion and support beyond Harvard’s campus.

The influence of the project has spread so quickly that two of Britain’s most esteemed universities have created similar campaigns in order to make a change on their respective campuses. According to Varsity, at University of Cambridge (across the pond, but yes, a fine coincidence) students have been encouraged by members of the school’s  Black and Minority Ethnic committee to submit photos of their own. At Oxford, students have formed, “I, Too, Am Oxford,” stating on their Tumblr that by participating in the initiative, “students of colour are demanding that a discussion on race be taken seriously and that real institutional change occur.” Whereas Harvard’s project involved solely members of the black community, both of these projects encourage all students who identify as belonging to an ethnic minority to participate.

While these campaigns bring to light just how much racism and ignorance continues to exists, especially among young people on college campuses, it is also a powerful reminder how voices of opposition can be even louder. Clearly, Harvard’s black community has a voice loud enough to resonate with other student groups around the world.

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