The Yale We Chose: Over 1,200 Gather for the March of Resilience

by Sarah Pearl Heard 

“This not the Yale we chose. Give us the Yale we chose. We traveled thousands of miles to be here and we deserve that.”  These were the words of Nodumo Ncomanzi, a senior from Zimbabwe, as she spoke on behalf of the Yale African Students Association (YASA) and international students from other countries that students of color at Yale call home.

Before her, a sophomore named  Ivetty Estepan who is of Dominican descent and identifies with both La Casa and the Afro-American Cultural Houses gave a rousing speech.

In it she declared, “We are not victims. We are on our way to being victors.” She also stated that “healthy communities don’t just happen, they are made. We’re showing Yale university how to make that community today.”

The purpose of this March was to empower, as a sophomore named Elisia Ceballo-Countryman said, “This week we cried, we screamed, we shouted, wailed, chalked, stood, shook, sat, danced, sung, and hugged …. Today is not about crying…It is time for a change in strategy. It is time for student power.”

The March of Resilience began at the Afro-American Cultural Center, and continued to each of the four cultural centers before ending at Cross Campus. Performing groups from each of the cultural centers present themselves to the crowd of 1,200.

¡Oye! Spoken Word represented La Casa, the Latinx Cultural Center. Sarah Pearl Heard, spoke about her experience as first generation Black and Mexican student. She described the burden that children of color and students at this institution face when interacting with students and administration who are unsympathetic to such experiences.

Blue Feather, a Native American drumming group two performed two songs, one entitled “Young and Free” and the other was untitled, but a favorite at intertribal Powwows.

Unity, the Korean Drumming Troupe performed a song that imitated a storm, one that is traditionally played in hope of a good harvest.

Shades of Yale, a African Dispora Acapella group performed a medley of “We Shall Overcome/Amen.”

After Nodumo’s speech, a party ensued. The hit singles “Alright” and “King Kunta” by Kendrick Lamar were played, along with many other R&B and Hip-Hop songs.  Partying, break dancing and line dancing contributed to an overwhelming joyful atmosphere.

Many faculty, including Professor Jafari Allen, associate head of Ezra Stiles College Alicia Schmidt-Camacho, head of Ezra Stiles College Stephen Pitti, Dean of Ezra Stiles Camille Lizarribar, head of Berkeley College Marvin Chung and head of Pierson College Professor Stephen Davis were in attendance.

There also many white allies present, and the sea of faces in the crowd of 1,200 was very diverse. The Yale School of Drama, and various departments of the graduate schools were in attendance in high numbers. 

Students from all four cultural centers helped organize the march, and most of the organizers were women of color.

One woman at the rally held a sign saying “this is not a protest.” The March of Resilience was not a protest, but a display of solidarity, commitment to positive change, and joy in the face of weariness.

Everyone in attendance that day was reminded that “We are unstoppable, another Yale is possible.”

 

Correction: A previous version of this article said that Blue Feather performed a song called “Young and Pretty.” This has been corrected to show that Blue Feather performed a song called “Young and Free.”