Open Letter: Tufts Graduate Students Join the Call to make 2015 our year of resistance to state violence against Black lives

As graduate students in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts, we join the national call by Ferguson Action, to make 2015 our “year of resistance to state violence against Black lives,” and we invite graduate students and others across Tufts University to join us.

The police killings and non-indictments for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have ignited communities across the country to demand justice. Increasingly, people are recognizing that their deaths, along with those of Akai Gurley, Nizah Morris, Tarika Wilson, Oscar Grant, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Trayvon Martin, Yvette Smith, Tamir Rice and so many others, are not aberrations of an otherwise functional criminal justice system. They are an expression of an historically produced system of state violence toward Black people.

Last week, thousands marched and took direct action to demand justice for Black lives under the banner of #ReclaimMLK, reviving the Civil Rights tradition of militant non-violent civil disobedience and the legacy of the “leaderful” grassroots movement that made the gains of the Civil Rights movement possible.  Here at Tufts, we have been inspired by the leadership of undergraduate activists of #IndictTufts who, through holding vigils every 28 hours and die-ins on and off campus, have elevated consciousness on this campus about the state-sanctioned murder of Black people.

As graduate students, we too have a role and a responsibility to raise our voices and join the movement to defend ALL Black lives. We can start by articulating the relevance of this movement to our discipline and professional practice.

As emerging urban planners and policy makers, we recognize the sometimes adversarial role our field plays in Black communities. From the slave labor that drove industrialization in the Northern cities to residential discrimination, urban renewal, decades of disinvestment followed by gentrification, cities have been sites of racial segregation, exploitation and violence. In spite of this, U.S. cities have been built by Black labor, shaped by Black leadership, organization and resistance, and have found strength in multiracial social movements that have forced a more liberatory urban vision. As progressive urban planners and policy makers, we strive to build on this history of struggle for just and equitable cities where Black lives do indeed matter.

So we call on other graduate students throughout the Tufts community to ask themselves difficult questions. Why do Black lives matter to you? How will you resist state violence against Black lives in your discipline and professional practice? Whether you are in the sciences or humanities, you have a role to play in this movement, and we invite you to join us in engaging in thoughtful action to address this question.


The following UEP students:

Rebecca Tumposky, MA UEP 2015

Danielle Ngo, MA UEP/MS Friedman 2017

Andrew Petit de Mange, MA UEP 2015

Rachel Nagin, MA UEP 2016

Allentza Michel, MPP UEP 2015

Marc Germain, MPP UEP 2015

James McKeag, MA UEP 2015

Benjamin Baldwin, MA UEP 2016

Jonathan Diaz, MA UEP 2016

Andrew Wiley, MA UEP 2015

Abby Farnham, MA UEP 2015

Joseph Sacchi, MA UEP 2015

Janaki Blum, MA UEP 2016

Kasia Hart, MA UEP 2015

Marguerite Hutcheson, MA UEP 2015

Joel Wool, MA UEP 2017

Cassie Mann, MA UEP 2015

Kim Etingoff, MA UEP 2015

Caitlin Matthews, MA UEP/MS Friedman 2017

Trang Vuong, MA UEP 2016

Rebecca Toole, MA UEP 2015/MS Economics 2015

Laurie Hickman Calvert, MA UEP 2015

Kathleen O’Brien, MA UEP 2015

Suezanne P. Bruce, MPP UEP 2016

Meghan Higgins, MA UEP/Child Development 2016

Jacqueline Calderón, MPP UEP 2015

Allison Platt, MA UEP 2016


Ferguson Action New Year’s Pledge of resistance:


I pledge to make 2015 my year of resistance to state violence against Black lives.

I challenge myself and those in my community to take risks as we confront the many ways that Black lives are diminished and taken from us.

This pledge is in defense of ALL Black lives. We stand with Black men and women. We act when Black Queer and Trans lives are threatened. We defend the rights of our Black family when we are poor, disabled and incarcerated. I will elevate their names.

I pledge to practice resilience. As I make space for direct action and civil disobedience, I will also act for the healing of our communities and make space for my own healing so I may be a part of this movement for the long-haul.

This year, I will declare boldly and loudly through my words and actions, that #BlackLivesMatter.


 To get involved in graduate student organizing at Tufts, contact [email protected] or attend their meeting on Wednesday January 28th at 6pm at 72 Professor Row. 

Update: Because of the Snow Day, the meeting has been rescheduled. Please contact Rachel ([email protected]) to find out the date of the next meeting.

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