Pictured: Sedona Benjamin speaking at Unburning Swamp; Photo courtesy of Kassie Bohannon.
Several people attended the UnBurning Swamp open mic reading conducted through the Department of Writing & Linguistics on Georgia Southern’s Statesboro campus Wednesday.
Organized by GS alumni Trey Rhone, Keegan Woods, and GS senior Marcelene Delcampo, the peaceful gathering discussed issues of racism and racial injustice in the United States in lieu of the recent death of George Floyd. This event also was in support of Black Lives Matter.
“We can’t let this keep happening,” said Rhone. “We can’t let our voices go unheard.”
Students were given a chance to voice their thoughts on the current state of the country. There were fourteen readers, their topics ranging from police brutality and racism to white supremacy and unjust leadership.
Other students encouraged each other to attend protests for the civil rights movement.
In her reading, GS alumna Stefani Flanagan, said, “If you see a protest outside, open your door and help them out.”
The UPD officers were also in attendance at the Un-Burning Swamp event. During Marci’s reading, she turned to them to speak.
“I am a daughter of a cop,” Delcampo said. “I am calling the other cops out because I want you guys to plant the seed. Plant the seed and please make a change because we’re tired.”
The police officers on the scene were respectful and quick to comfort Marci and others once the event concluded, stating that they were in support of the event.
“When speaking with campus police, I told them about some people in the crowd that were upset because they felt like they were not listening and I wanted to inform them,” said Flanagan in an email. “One officer named Laura (don’t know her last name) told me that they are only as involved as the organizers want them to be. With the topic overall being very sensitive with police, they didn’t want to crowd us and cause a problem. They [the officers] assured us that they were listening and just wanted to keep a safe distance to keep tensions as low as possible.”
This was not the only function on campus in relation to recent current events. On Sunday, May 31, hundreds of protestors gathered for the “Justice for Us” march. This peaceful demonstration was accompanied by GS’ University Police Department (UPD).
When discussing governmental justice, GS student Kayla Hoscheid said, “You said no for so long, that we’re pushing for a yes until we get it.”
Rhone said one of his biggest takeaways from the event was “how everyone rallied together, how pretty much everyone is on the same side.”
The peaceful event concluded and the attendees stuck around to share food and conversations with each other.
Jessica Stevens, a reader at the Unburning Swamp event, said “It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Hispanic, Asian. Everyone is in an uproar about what is happening to our friends of color. We want something done about it.”
Bodie Fox contributed to this article. Marcelene Delcamp ois an assistant poetry editor for Miscellany in the Spring of 2020.