Tampa, Fla.—About 500 students rallied on Jan. 30 at Martin Luther King Plaza at the University of South Florida here to support immigrants and to deliver a petition to the university president calling for divestment from companies whose products harm the environment or which produce weapons and supplies for the military.
Organized by United Students Against Sweatshops, a spokeswoman said the university has ignored every social justice issue they have raised. The rally included an open mic at which students from all over the world told their stories and expressed deep gratitude to the gathering for their support.
One young woman told her mother, who had fled Iran in 1979, “Now is the time to speak out.” A proudly Black Muslim and feminist cried out against the travel ban which rips families apart. She said it was amazing and empowering to feel so much support around her. A member of Dream Defenders said, “They don’t see us as human.” A white man said, “I am you; you are them,” and a white woman proclaimed, “I am using my white privilege to fight white supremacy.” Two Black men, one American and one Nigerian, pointed to the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to underline their calls for unity and refusal to let “a man only for profit run our country.” Other students included the daughter of Bosnian refugees, a Mexican-American who warned people were shot when they climbed the wall, and a young man who tutors refugee children, asking for more volunteers.