Inspired by the poem “I, Too” by Langston Hughes, an African-American poet and civil rights activist, the Office of Student Life Multicultural Center hosted I, Too, Am America on Friday. The event welcomed students to participate in group activities, watch the inaugural address and express their opinions afterwards in the Ohio Union.
Starting at 10 a.m., participants ate breakfast and painted an Ohio State community mural that will hang in the Ohio Union. The Inauguration Day parade and President Donald Trump’s inaugural address was screened as well.
“We thought this would be something really nice to do here on campus for Inauguration Day and give students and members of our community a safe, affirming space to come out and watch the Inauguration Day and commemorate Inauguration Day in a way that felt good,” said Gisell Jeter-Bennett, a programming member for the Multicultural Center.
After watching the inauguration, students were invited to reflect and share their thoughts with one another and the staff from the Multicultural Center, or participate in teach-ins taught by graduate students, staff and faculty addressing questions on what the country may face in the future.
“We wanted to think of creative ways to focus on community, empowerment, and activism,” Jeter-Bennett said.
The event concluded with performances by three local spoken words artists.
“I really like spoken word, and I wanted to be in this type of environment today because the Multicultural Center is really good at making you feel better and addressing certain issues that are at stake,” said Cassie Stratton, employee of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Each artist shared at least five different pieces of poetry either read, from memory or improvised. The topics ranged from personal hardships to common societal injustices that African Americans, both men and women, face, as well as their personal thoughts on the recent election.
“I’m just really hoping there can be that community feel of standing together and knowing that we are going to be strong no matter what happens after the Inauguration,” Stratton said.
Jeter-Bennett said she hoped the event would help students understand the importance of civic engagement.
“It doesn’t matter your political affiliations, we all really need to be involved so hopefully those who came on Friday will understand that and begin to think about how they want to engage as a citizen,” she said.