At Village Park in Geneseo Tuesday afternoon, community members and students and faculty of SUNY Geneseo joined together for a Black Lives Matter rally.

“I feel like a big change is taking place. And when I knew this was happening in Geneseo — I’m not living in Geneseo at the moment — but when I come back I want to know the momentum isn’t gone, but I wanted to see it start here today, and be a part of it," SUNY Geneseo student Sydney Schmidt said.

What You Need To Know

  • A Black Lives Matter rally and march was held at Village Park in Geneseo. 

  • The event was organized by students 

  • Organizers are looking for safe spaces for minorities and students to organize and a reconfiguration of UPD hiring and training

The rally and march that followed were organized by students.

“We’ve come together here, using our privilege as able-bodied young people in a community that’s predominately white to show our support and solidarity for these communities, and we want that message to translate,” march organizer Thasfia Chowdhury said.

Much to the joy of faculty members like Dr. Maria Helena Lima, who has taught humanities and black humanities at the college since 1992.

“I hope this time is for real, because there have been attempts at Civil Rights, marches — you saw the march on Selma, there was a movie for that — and then some little change happens, and everything is forgotten,” Dr. Lima said.

Organizers had demands of not just the town, but the college too — like the creation of a safe space for minorities and students to organize.

“How do we confront mass racial prejudice like this if there isn’t a framework through which students can organize?" Chowdhury said. "Another demand is for the state and for the town to kind of reconsider how many UPD police they’re hiring, and what kind of training they’re utilizing.”

And though not all the students are from Geneseo, they feel it’s important to spark change in the community.

“The research academics are doing in the institution are always very isolated from the community," Student organizer Awab Shawkat said. "So segueing and defusing responsibility of racial awareness and equity away from just the minorities, away from just those aware of it, but to everybody making it a community initiative. I think that’s the real purpose of this march.”

And Dr. Lima agrees.

“I’m going to be 68, child," Dr. Lima said. "How many — maybe I have 10 years of teaching if I still have my marbles, maybe. But they are the future. If they don’t see the need to change society to address the inequities and inequality, who will?"

As for their demands, students say they’ll be following up with campus and town administration.