(Originally posted on Black Star Magazine)
A group of Emory students created images and messages in chalk to show support for Muslim and immigrant students on Wednesday night.
Six students spent three hours writing messages of solidarity in Asbury Circle, outside of Cox Hall, and in other locations near the center of campus. The messages were in response to an executive order issued by President Donald Trump that effectively bans immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“We wanted to help students feel welcome and raise spirits,” said Patti Gerta, a College junior. “It’s easy to get overwhelmed with hate, and we wanted to show that we as Emory students support those who are affected by the ban.”
College junior Jamani “Roe” Montague says that the move was spontaneous and planned by a small group of students.
“We thought that if people could write Trump 2016 all over campus, we could make people feel welcome,” Montague said. “We wanted to make it look beautiful and welcoming.
“We wanted Emory students to know that they didn’t have to feel alienated, and that they belong,” College junior Asha Fradkin said. “We also wanted to get people thinking about everything that’s going on.”
The students who created the messages said the experience was uplifting and that several passing community members showed curiosity and support for their message. They agreed that the image of a Muslim woman wearing the American flag as a hijab required the most work.
“That was Patti’s idea,” Montague said. “It was inspired by an image floating around online.”
“We wanted to be intentional about drawing it on brown bricks,” Gerta said. “And at one point we ran out of chalk and had to run to CVS to get more. It was hard work, but it paid off.”
“I love that image,” Fradkin added. “When I look at it I think, ‘That’s what an American looks like to me.’ And I think that’s the most important part of all this. Muslim Americans deserve to be treated as first-class citizens just like everyone else.”