My name is Patrick Burke and I am the Political Engagement and Activism Fellow at the Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE) at Carleton. The CCCE organizes and promotes programs that build meaningful reciprocal relationships between Carleton students and staff and the larger Northfield/Rice County community. My role in the center lets me work with student groups on campus to coordinate larger political and activism-related events. It is important for us as college students to have our voices heard in the political process – and when students are really passionate about an issue, I love being able to help them do something about it.
A couple of weeks ago, Carleton Inter-Faith Social Action (IFSA), a group on campus that focuses on immigration reform and educational access, began arranging a trip to the March for Dignity and Respect in Minneapolis on October 5. The march was being organized by a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups, labor unions, business organizations, and churches to pressure members of the United States Congress to support issues of immigration. IFSA specifically wanted to put pressure on John Kline, Northfield’s Congressman, to support comprehensive immigration reform – including a path to citizenship for all immigrants.
Although St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Northfield was organizing transportation for its parishioners, a lot of Carleton students also wanted to participate. So, that Saturday, the CCCE and the Chapel funded a bus to take 24 Carleton students into the Twin Cities. Equipped with poster boards, markers, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we set out for the march well-prepared.
When we arrived, we attended a bilingual prayer service led by priests and ministers from around the Twin Cities area. Then we started marching. Holding signs with phrases including “Northfield Respects Everyone” and “Northfield for Justice and Dignity for All” alongside other Northfield residents, we traveled from the Basilica of St. Mary’s to Hennepin County Government Building, chanting in English and Spanish. At the end of the march, Northfield got a shout out from the event organizers for coming all the way out to participate alongside the thousands of other activists who made it out that day.
It was good to be heard!