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MLK Week Screening, Panel Explores Democracy and Protest

A panel of social justice activists discussed race, protest, and intersectionality after an exclusive screening of Show Me Democracy in the Bright Family Screening Room Wednesday night.

This screening of Show Me Democracy was only the second time the film has been shown to an audience, the first being at the St. Louis Film Festival in November 2016. The film follows a number of St. Louis college students as they fight for change through protest and advocacy after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The panel, moderated by EBONI President Chala Tshitundu ‘18, addressed questions such as “Why is it important for young people to engage in the democratic process?” and “Can you speak to the necessity of intersectionality in different movements?” The event was part of Emerson’s MLK Week, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Inclusion and Campus Life.  

“For me, as a mother and as an educator, I think about creating a literacy,” Judy Pryor-Ramirez, executive director of Emerson’s Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research, said in response to a question about how youth can get involved in the democratic process.

She said young people are our future, and in order for them to be really involved, they need to develop a consciousness.

Laura Londoño ‘18, president of Emerson UNITE (Understanding National Immigration Through Education), spoke on the importance of intersectionality – how issues such as race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. are interconnected and amplify each other — in protests.

“You can’t just go to the [women’s] march on Saturday and say ‘I’m done’… just because it doesn't affect you personally doesn’t mean it isn’t important,” Londoño said.

The panelists also took questions from the audience. When asked how they would engage people through protests that are meaningful but don’t turn people off, the panelists had some strong opinions.  

DiDi Delgado, leader of Black Lives Matter Cambridge and head of operations at the Society of Urban Poetry (S.O.U.P.), said she didn’t believe there was time to worry about people’s feelings when lives are on the line.

“What is it about property, that we value property over life?” she said. “My mother used hydrogen peroxide on my cuts, just because it burns doesn’t mean it doesn’t work” she added.

Delgado shared her personal experience of the questions she, as a protest organizer, is often asked, and how she deals with those who don’t understand common protest methods.

“If they were with you until you ruined brunch, where do their values really lie?” Emerson UNITE member and Berklee College of Music student Jonathan Mendoza said, agreeing with Delgado.

The panel concluded with a message that there was still more work to be done, as there always has been in this country. With Show Me Democracy screenings are beginning to spread across the country, the conversation is sure to continue.

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