Sept. 26, 2016 marks the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of 43 student teachers in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A) de Knox held a march in protest after classes let out for the day.
Students started to march from the Human Rights Center and then met with other students and professors outside Old Main. Signs were handed out that featured the pictures and names of the students who are still missing. Other signs read “43” or had 43 tally marks on them.
The protest was led by M.E.Ch.A co-presidents and seniors Marilyn Barnes and José Guevara, who would start the chants that the rest of the students echoed. The chants included “You took them alive, we want them alive,” “The people united will never be divided” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
Many of the chants were also repeated in Spanish.
After the march had circled campus, the students and professors met on the lawn between Alumni Hall and Seymour Union. They started by reading a timeline of events that have happened between Sept. 26, 2014 and last November. Each student read one day on the timeline.
They then read testimony from the students and parents of students, as well as poems inspired by the tragedy.
Two years after the event, many are still unaware about what happened in Mexico.
Barnes said that many students asked her about the 43 shaved into the back of her hair, not knowing what the significance was.
M.E.Ch.A. hopes the protest raised more awareness on campus, and will provide students with resources on how they can help in the upcoming weeks.
“We believe strongly in civic action as well, so we feel that by bringing in awareness could also manifest something even bigger,” Guevara said.
For Barnes, the tragedy is more personal.
“My family in Mexico is from Guerrero, they’re not too far from the town where this happened, that’s why it’s important to me as well. I may not be too close to my family out there but I do care about their safety,” she said.
For many, the protest was a wake-up call. Students joined in the march as it circled around campus, and professors grabbed signs and stood in solidarity once the march had reached the lawn.
“I feel like Knox students like to educate themselves with events, but we all get stuck in the Knox bubble from time to time so sometimes this just brings to light that we have to get out of that Knox bubble and into the real light,” junior Karina Garcia said.
Guevara echoed with a similar sentiment about why this protest is important, even in America.
“We have this obligation, we feel we have the obligation, the responsibility to do something about it, to raise awareness, to leave our grain of sand in whatever manner that we can.”