This weekend, Executive Director of Million Hoodies Movement for Justice Dante Barry taught New College students about what fighting for racial justice looks like from the front lines.
“I first came to Million Hoodies in 2013 and I was in very deep rage,” Barry said. “That was the year after Trayvon Martin was killed.”
“We saw an energy that we haven’t seen in a long time, particularly among young black and brown people,” Barry said. “Million Hoodies connects people to community. We understand that we are political in our being as black and brown people, as queer people of color, trans people of color, as all these different identities. Our existence is political.”
Million Hoodies Movement for Justice began in response to the lack of media attention regarding the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. They started gaining traction when one of the co-founders called people to tweet pictures of themselves wearing hoodies in an effort to fight racial profiling. They gained national attention when Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin – Trayvon Martin’s parents – attended a Million Hoodies rally in New York City, stimulating other rallies nationwide.
Today, Million Hoodies’ mission is to educate the public on anti-black issues, campaign for anti-racism nationwide and to support student leadership groups across college campuses like ours.
Barry recounted his participation in the Ferguson protests over the death of Michael Brown in 2014, an experience that changed his life.
“This wasn’t just about another cop killing another black person,” Barry said. “This was about the response to his death. The state response to the community in mourning was to set dogs on them. People took to the streets and the state of Missouri sent tanks and tear gas. But people knew this was a moment for radical political and social transformation.”
More than anything, Barry’s visit reinvigorated student activists and served as a call to action for young students of color and allies on our campus.
“We need to be unapologetic in dismantling racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, all these things, because our lives are on the line,” Barry said. “This is white supremacy’s last gasp.”