Hundreds of students, alumni and members of the Charlottesville community gathered Wednesday for an emotional night during a solidarity event called “Collective Healing: Open Mic for Unity.”
The event, which was organized in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s election Tuesday, was held in the McIntire Amphitheatre.
The Minority Rights Coalition, United for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity and DREAMers on Grounds — along with other groups — came together to host the event.
“Last night, an individual who ran a campaign of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, islamophobia, and authoritarianism was elected president of our country,” the event’s Facebook page said. “We invite you, our community, to process this pain together and discuss future action.”
The event began with three speakers voicing their concerns.
Third-year College student Weston Gobar first highlighted the importance of the event, describing it as a place for individuals to heal following the election. He then iterated the importance of not giving up because of the election’s results.
“These are going to be a tough four years,” Gobar said. “But we can’t allow Trump to win. We need to continue to commit to activism, to vote, to get an education.”
After Gobar spoke, second-year College student Alex Smith-Scales, who prefaced her remarks by telling the audience she had been crying all day, read a letter she wrote to her future daughter.
“Future daughter, you can do anything,” Smith-Scales said. “I wish I could say I witnessed the breaking of the glass ceiling at a pivotal time in my life. But I did not. Future daughter, you are beautiful, you are intelligent, and I’m sorry your country is broken.”
Second-year College student Hannah Borja recalled the events of election night through her perspective. She wrote a letter to a friend — an immigrant — sharing how her friend was overcome with sorrow and worry after learning Trump won the election.
Borja’s letter highlighted not only the comfort she gave to her friend, but also her own feelings about the results.
“We watched everything collapse together, and together we will rebuild,” Borja said.
Following these remarks, the microphone was opened for anyone who wanted to speak. Speakers had three minutes to share how they felt.
Dozens of people used this opportunity to express their thoughts. Common themes of the attendees’ comments centered on how they felt during and following election night, what the election would mean for their friends and family and how those who oppose Trump should handle themselves and take action moving forward.
“We must work to end the divisive trend in society,” first-year College student Dan Berger said. “In two years, there will be another Congressional election to allow our voice to be heard. We must hope that as a nation we will overcome this setback. Civic duty, a responsibility to be politically involved, is not only every four years.”
University alumna Joanne Speiden said that “we’ve taken a really big step backwards, but for every step backwards, we have to take two steps forward.”
“I know we didn’t break the glass ceiling this time, but the glass ceiling will break,” Speiden said. “I may not live to see it, but you will.”
Patrick Talamantes, a third-year Curry student, reminded the audience about the importance of love and empathy for other people, regardless of political affiliation.
“Be empathetic,” Talamantes said. “Do not dehumanize someone else. To do that is to do exactly what they’re doing to us. Love each other, love your loved ones, love strangers, love your Hoos. The fact of loving each other is changing the world.”