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Marching for unity on ECU campus

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People march through ECU campus during the Unity March put on by the ECU chapter of NAACP on Wednesday. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Marching to the chant, “People united will never be defeated,” an ethnically and racially diverse group of about 100 ECU students on Wednesday afternoon made their way from Mendenhall Student Center to Gateway Hall across 10th Street.

The “Unity March” was coordinated by the ECU chapter of the NAACP and ECUnited, a growing grassroots student movement that started in 2015 and challenges the East Carolina University community to bridge the worlds of ideas and actions, according to a news release issued to promote the event.

Marchers carried posters that invoked their message.

“It isn’t just a Black thing; it’s a unity thing,” read a sign carried by ECU student Magiotta St. Hubert. She said she finds value in unity within the black student population and among the many different populations represented on the campus.

“ECU is a predominantly white university, so I want the black students to be united as resources and a support system for one another,” St. Hubert said. “Today, people of different races and backgrounds are coming together as one to represent the same thing, and that’s also unity to me.” 

That was just the message that NAACP chapter secretary Octavia McLean said she wanted the event to spread across the campus and into the Greenville community.

“The main goal is for us all to understand backgrounds and perspectives different from our own in order to become more unified,” McLean said while she waited for the march to begin. “The NAACP fights for equality and justice for all people; we are for everybody. With that understanding, we can move forward together in one accord.”

ECU chapter President Adedayo Adeniyi thanked the marchers outside Mendenhall for their attendance.

“Peace appreciates it, love appreciates it and unity appreciates it,” Adeniyi said. “I see empathy missing a lot from this world; a willingness to walk in someone else’s shoes. We want to show that despite what’s going on outside our campus, there is a lot of love and compassion here. We’re all Pirates, we’re all human and we’re all here for each other.” 

The NAACP chapter invited several campus organizations, including the Panhellenic community, fraternal organizations, the Black Student Union and others to join in the march and the musical celebration performed outside Gateway by B-Shak Rhythm and Soul, an afro jazz soul group.

“The objective is to promote the value of diversity across all spectrums and to show that our differences are what makes us stronger,” Adeniyi said. “This initiative will become an annual march to highlight our diversity.” The march is being sponsored by multiple student organizations as well as Student Affairs, and Student Involvement & Leadership.

#ECUnited will serve as the home for future initiatives that fit within the unity ideal, including Cupola Conversations, Pledge Purple, the North Carolina Civility Summit and Play for Peace.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9507.

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