Seniors Marco Torres and Mia Lawrence used their platform as members of the homecoming court for activism during the parade on Friday.
Torres held a poster that read “Believe Survivors”, and “#Resist Kavanaugh,” in response to the allegations of sexual misconduct made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh..
Similarly, Lawrence held a Black Lives Matter flag to demonstrate her “firm” support of the movement and represent her role as the president of Black Student Union.
Both students said that while their decision to spread a political message during the homecoming parade deviated from tradition, they felt the desire to use the opportunity as a means of self-expression.
“It’s such an honor to be on homecoming court. It’s such a privilege, and it’s a platform as well,” Torres said. “It’s pointless to be on homecoming court if you’re not going to take actions to better the community.”
Furthermore, both agreed that their display served to showcase not only their ideological beliefs but who they are as people.
“I’m going to do this to the best of my ability and I’m going to do this in a way that incorporates things that matter to me,” Lawrence said of her decision to carry the flag.
According to Torres, both students spoke prior to the parade and expressed their worry that homecoming was not the appropriate setting for political activism. However, both said they received affirmation from their peers and homecoming partners Shabnam Kazimli and Jasmine Velazco.
“The youth is such a powerful thing. If there are things wrong with our world…it’s important that people learn now that they can speak out and change them.”– Mia Lawrence
In addition, Lawrence said she felt that carrying her flag during the parade ultimately proved far more impactful amongst an audience where her message may not have been wanted or expected.
“I even heard somebody say ‘trash’ when I had passed by with the flag, and that just makes me know even more that it needed to be there,” Lawrence said.
Kazimli concurred that despite the apolitical nature of the event, she said she valued her fellow students’ decision to address important issues that “we should all care [about].”
Lawrence said she sought for people to acknowledge her flag, regardless of whether they reacted positively or negatively. For her, she said the Black Lives Matter movement is “the black community asking for respect”.
Torres decided to make the poster the day before the parade, after watching the hearing of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh. With his poster, he wanted to advocate for survivors of sexual assault and rebuke instances of victim blaming.
“One of my family members was sexually assaulted, and she didn’t come out with it until very recently,” Torres said. “Society has been so construed into thinking that the victims are to blame and that we should belittle the victims, and it’s not okay because there are so many people that sit in silence, who don’t actually share their stories because they are in fear.”
Both students said they felt that their form of protest effectively raised awareness about their respective issues and affirmed the importance of students’ using their voice to engage in social or political issues that matter to them.
“The youth is such a powerful thing,” Lawrence said. “If there are things wrong with our world…it’s important that people learn now that they can speak out and change them.”