“I’m wearing purple!” declared Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole to the cheers of the large crowd of students, faculty, and staff who gathered outside the Student Center on February 7 to show their solidarity with the LGBT community at the Rally for Unity.
Organized by the SGA, SPECTRUMS, the Greek community, the NAACP and Brotherhood, and several women’s groups, in conjunction with the LGBT Center, the rally was a campus-wide response to recent bias threats directed toward the LGBT community. The event featured speakers, as well as music and dance performances, and drew several hundred participants.
“Today, the overwhelming message is ‘unity,’ ” said Alan Akins, president of SPECTRUMS and one of the speakers. “The support that the LGBT community has received from this campus has exceeded imagination.”
Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Karen L. Pennington echoed the unity theme in her remarks and drew cheers by saying, “When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!”
While acknowledging that in a community of more than 20,000 people, incidents such as bias threats will occur, Cole said “We don’t need to accept it—we shouldn’t accept it—but neither should we respond as victims. The ones who did this are the victims. They are the victims of their own ignorance, stupidity, and anger—not you.”
Individuals and organizations from outside the University community also showed their support, including New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg, the Montclair branch of the NAACP, and the Rutgers University Student Assembly.
“Stand tall, stand calm, and be proud to be yourself,” said Cole. “Here in this community, we accept each other as we are.”
Read an article about the rally in The Record.
View more photos from the event.