Hamilton College’s Black and Latino Student Union (BLSU) attended the 20th Annual Black Solidarity Conference at Yale University on Feb. 19.  This year’s topic was: “Ties That Bind: Unique In Our Blackness, One In Our Struggle,” which focused on unifying students of color to converse, to brainstorm and to take the lead in the fight against systematic oppression.   

The representatives from Hamilton College who attended were Medjine Lucien ’16, Lashawn Russell-Ware ’17, Leslie Campos’17, Ana Castro Reynoso’17, Branden Miles ’17, Terri Moise’17, Adrian Marcano’16, Tyler Ridley’17, Caleb Williamson’17, Kiana Sosa ’15, Annel Monsalvo’17, Marquis Palmer’18

The highlight of the event was the keynote dinner, which featured former NAACP president and CEO Ben Jealous, and co-founder of the group Millennial Activists United, Ashley Yates. 

Jealous spoke about his initial involvement with the NAACP and his activism, as well as that of a 16-year-old woman named Joteka Eaddy, who helped eradicate the U.S. death penalty for juveniles. He ended his heartfelt speech encouraging all students in the room to find their passion and to never give up. 

Ashley Yates gave a fiery speech about the importance of the activism with the younger generation and the significance of the date, February 21, 2015—50 years since the murder of Malcolm X.  She concluded that systematic oppression was not an American problem, but a global problem, that needs to end through unity and activism of people of all races, genders, socio-economic classes, religions and ethnicities.  She ended her speech asking the audience to passionately recite the words of Assata Shakur :

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

While some students were attending for their first time, there were a handful of students who were returning to Yale after a remarkable conference, the year before.  Caleb Williamson ’17 expressed his excitement on social media.  He wrote,

“At Yale for the 20th Black Solidarity Conference! After being inspired the first time and pursuing a research grant, I am back looking for more inspiration. I hope this conference proves beneficial to not only myself but to all of the participants from their respective institutions!”

Sure enough, members of the Hamilton community found inspiration at the 20th annual Black Solidarity Conference at Yale, and hope to make attending the conference a tradition for BLSU.

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