There were so many incredible aspects of Raymond Santana’s speech that it is hard to even know where to begin. However, by far the most important, at least in my opinion, is the way that he appealed to the students instead of talking at them. The way that he clearly and succinctly summarized the story of the Central Park Five spelled out in no uncertain terms how much work is needed to be done in order to ensure that a story such as his could never occur again. Yet, he did it in a way that was far from overwhelming or defeating. Literally calling us to the battlefield with him, he ended his speech by encouraging us to take the action necessary to end the cash bail system and solitary confinement. Though the elimination of these two things alone would not have prevented a tragedy such as the case of the Central Park Five and are relatively minor compared to the injustices he faced, Santana reminded us that each little step in dismantling the prison industrial complex brings us one step closer towards saving potential future victims. Thus, his argument was extremely effective and inspired me to approach activism with a renewed passion.
Revolution begins when someone is able to recognize, acknowledge, and call attention to a problem that they are facing, and the energy I had and could feel simmering in the room is a pure testament to that. Though it initially appeared to be a relatively mundane event, it quickly turned into one that will surely change the direction of my career and focus in life, and I know that is a sentiment shared by many.