Spreading the Spirit

As a school that lacks a football team and love for sports of any kind, I always get asked the same question: “So what do y’all do for school spirit?”, and I always give the same answer: “Homecoming week.”

Every year, Emory students, parents, and alumni gather in Asbury Circle to watch the Homecoming Parade while enjoying music and food trucks. Residence halls, fraternities, and other on-campus organizations decorate their floats in accordance to the theme. This year, the “Candyland” theme gave rise to decorations involving board games and candy. The group with the best float in the residence hall division would win points towards Dooley’s Bowl, which is Emory’s version of the “House Cup” in Harry Potter.

As a the Spirit Programming Chair of Complex Hall’s Residence Hall Association Council, I worked a lot on the planning and execution of Complex’s float. Let me tell you, it was a process.

Our idea was “The Sweet Life on Deck”, putting a twist on the title of the popular kid’s television show from the 2000s, Suite Life on Deck, which was centered around twin boys named Zack and Cody who attended school on a cruise ship. We decided we would turn our golf cart into the ship from the TV show, including windows with Zack and Cody’s faces inside, and we would place big versions of candy boxes on the top of the float. Formulating the ideas was the easy part.

After purchasing almost $200 worth of supplies from Walmart, we started painting the Sunday before the parade. After two hours of work, we quickly decided we needed another day during the week to finish everything up. So, that Wednesday, we ordered a pizza and began our work at 9:30 P.M. I didn’t get in bed until 3:00 A.M. that night.

Saturday, the day of the parade, finally came. I woke up at 8:30 to go pick up our golf cart, and after about 30 minutes of cluelessly walking around campus searching for the pickup spot, I finally found it, and my RHA team was able to get to work on building our float.

Our “cruise ship” included windows featuring Zack and Cody’s faces, Froot Loops strung from the ceiling, and giant candy boxes on top. We were able to put it together easily, and didn’t have any mishaps… Until we had to drive it to check-in, that is.

Our float put a twist on the popular kid’s TV show, “Suite Life on Deck”.


We had to drive all the way to the intersection of Peavine and Eagle Row (on the opposite side of campus from our dorm) for check-in. Once we reached Asbury Circle, we encountered a large crowd of people and booths that were setting up for parade viewing. As we were blasting Darude’s “Sandstorm” from our speaker, we were cruising in our cardboard-covered golf cart at a speed of 3 miles per hour, surrounded by crowds of upperclassmen and adults staring at us, unimpressed. It was embarrassing, to say the least. But don’t worry, we were laughing at ourselves.

This was our float right before we left for check in.

At check-in, we saw all of the other floats ready to go for the parade. Jungle themed, Monopoly themed, and board game themed carts filled the parking lot, and participants applied body paint, danced to their music, or performed some chants in preparation for driving. Then, the cue came from the megaphone, and everyone loaded into their floats.

Our banner was held by some Complex residents who walked with us in the parade.

Driving through crowds of people who share a love for my school was truly exhilarating. I loved seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces when I would throw them a piece of candy, or the laughs that came from those who found humor in the recognition of our Suite Life on Deck reference. I got to wave to friends I saw in the crowd, and I even passed my parents. Asbury Circle was buzzing with activity at this point, with people gathered around to watch the parade and enjoy lunch from the many delicious food trucks that were there. I could feel the sense of school spirit everyone shared and it reminded me of just how tight of a community Emory really is.

The banner led the golf cart into Asbury Circle for the parade.

While many colleges base their spirit off of sports, Emory has been able to spread school pride in other ways through traditions that our specifically our own. Since I’ve been here, I’ve allowed myself to take part in activities that help spread spirit around campus, and I’ve found that our sense of community here is very strong. Participating in events such as the homecoming parade has made me proud to be a student at Emory, and I can’t wait to continue repping the name over the next four years.

Complex RHA and some residents put up an X after walking in the parade.


By Kate Monger

“If You’re Alone, You’re Sick”

After three hours of chasing down MARTA buses, forgetting play tickets, and interesting uber rides we (Faith and Rachel ) somehow managed to arrive an hour early at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta for the showing of the Alliance Theatre on the Go’s Crossing Delancey. Exhausted from the day’s events we didn’t even consider looking up the plotline of the play and instead decided to kill the hour with a conversation about academics, pushy family members, and our loves lives, or more so our lack of ones. So imagine our surprise when the play unfolded to be a young Jewish bookstore owner, Izzy, and her attempt to find love with the unwanted help of her persistent grandmother and matchmaker friend. As the play continued we found ourselves in a pickle with a pickle man, a lonely bookstore owner, her Bubbie, an author, and a matchmaker.

Faith’s ticket

Needless to say, the play, Crossing Delancey, captured our attention and nurtured our interest in generational differences on dating and marriage.

The stage lights turn on and immediately the audience is transported to the tiny home of Bubbie, the protagonist, Izzy’s, very bold and very Jewish grandmother. Right off the bat viewers can feel the endearing love that Izzy has for her eccentric grandmother, despite the conflicting viewpoints the two women discuss over baked goods at the kitchen table. As Izzy stuffs her mouth with Bubbie’s home-cooked delights she is subjected to the lecturing of her grandmother, who insists on getting her married off as soon as possible in order to protect her from the most horrible fate imaginable-life alone. As Bubbie’s speech progresses Izzy becomes continuously more amused until finally laughing in disbelief when her grandmother encourages her to go out on a blind-date a matchmaker set up for her with the local pickle man, Sam Posner. Right away Izzy counters her relative’s statement, defending the mindset of the modern woman’s take on marriage.

Bubbie’s kitchen

She argues that “It’s very different for women of my generation. . . . Everything’s different. We have options. . . . I can do anything I want to do. Go anywhere I want to go. . . . Maybe I don’t want a husband. . . And if I did, he wouldn’t be a pickle man.”  Izzy’s statement stood out to us as a perfect representation of the generational gap present in terms of what marriage truly entails for millennials versus those born before. Whereas Izzy’s grandmother looks at marriage as a means for security, Izzy sees marriage as a unity between two souls made perfectly for each other, which is more along the lines of what today’s young adults are searching for in lifelong partners. Initially, Izzy looks down on the idea of a prospective suitor being someone invested in the business of pickles as it seems to contrast immensely from her passion for books and intellect. However, as the play progresses it is revealed that perhaps not all the ways we millennials go about the dating process are ideal. Crossing Delancey brings up differences regarding the options available to younger generations, the use of technology for dating, and expectations of marriage.

When examining Izzy’s previously mentioned statement there is one word that seems to stand out, “options”. People of our generation, Millennials, and even the generation after us, Generation Z, have far more dating options than our grandparents. We do not have to worry about one lost opportunity because we have plenty of fish to catch in the sea, which we can easily attain with one quick swipe right on our phone screens. Izzy just had Sam the pickle man and the author Tyler Moss, who we eventually learned was only interested in making her his assistant, but that could be more than others had near her. Because the play is set in the 80’s Izzy doesn’t take to any dating apps to talk to her potential suitors; however, we still noted the idea of “options” being translatable to technology today. Technology provides places like the internet with millions of users worldwide, which allow us to connect with numerous amounts of people who could be prospective companions. Dating apps, websites, and even social media are new places for people to meet and form relationships; however, prior to this people were limited to those that lived in close proximity to them. This meant that there were not many places where people could connect and thus convenience played a large factor in who people married at the time. This fact is depicted in the play when Bubbie goes on to describe how she married her late husband. He was ever persistent and had a good job so finally, she decided “why not?” and proceeded to date and eventually marry him. Because Bubbie grew up in a time where traditional male roles of providing for the household were expected, there is a conflict with the way she views marriage versus Izzy. Just like us, Izzy is living in a time of female progressivism and the idea of a woman providing for herself and marrying for love and not convenience has become normalized which Bubbie, just as some members of older generations, do not understand.

Living with immigrant parents that are a generation older, Faith has been acutely aware of these differences as she grew up. Growing up, Faith still remembers being confused about both her parents and her grandparent’s marriage situations. Her grandparents wed when her grandmother was only about fourteen or fifteen, but her grandfather was about thirty. Keep in mind that this was in Africa, and it was and in some places still is culturally acceptable. They basically still see marriage as a source of security. Faith’s grandpa owned a business so he could take care of her grandma, they lived in the same city, shared the same religion, and their families descended from the same tribe, which meant that they should be able to live together comfortably. Love was not the main priority because it could come with time. Faith’s parents married for similar reasons. As she grew up, it was clear that while her mom did want her to be in love with the person she married, Faith could tell based off what her mother said that she prioritized stability and security. Faith, however, is not necessarily worried about security and wants to marry her soulmate, which parallels Izzy’s desires exactly.

Us with Sochi Fried who played Izzy

Another issue that we discovered is that the Millennials and the Baby Boomers are not looking for the same things when it comes to partners and marriage. According to Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg in their book Modern Romance: An Investigation, in the past, people had companionate marriages: they were not necessarily about love, but convenience. Marriage used to be mainly about security; each person had clearly defined roles that would ensure that they produced a good family. For women, marriage meant more autonomy, since they were now only under the authority of their husbands. Since men worked, marrying a man that had a good job was necessary. They were just looking for someone that they could have kids and a stable life with. For men, marriage meant finding a nice girl to have kids with so that you could be the head of a household. In a survey taken in the 1960’s, they found that 76% of women would marry someone that they did not love as opposed to 35% of men (Ansari and Klinenberg 22). Now we are not just looking for these things alone, but we also want a soulmate. In the play, Izzy did not want to marry the pickle man because having a successful business was not enough for her. She wanted someone that she connected with on a deeper level, which is what she believed she would have with Tyler, the snobby author, based off what she read in his novels. Ever since the Women’s Movement, women no longer find themselves needing to rely on a man for stability. This means that it is no longer the biggest factor in pursuing a partner. In the 1980’s another survey was done and they found that 91% of women and 86% of men would not marry someone that they did not experience romantic love with (Ansari and Klinenberg 24). The people want true love and real connections. We found this especially interesting as the play takes place during the 80s where this shift of marital expectations is examined. After reflecting on the play and researching the causes and effects of generational gaps we began to ponder what we learned from this Out on the Town event.

We decided that dating in the twenty-first century can get complicated quickly. At first, it seems simple: Slide into said person’s DMs, swipe right on Tinder, create a profile on Christian Mingle, or just text the kid you like from your math class. While we do have so many options, so does everyone else, which makes finding a soulmate a long and tricky process. It makes us wonder whether or not the “old way” of thinking is all that bad, especially when considering Izzy ends up being with pickle man Sam by the end of the play.

A poster for the play

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned about convenience when we examine it from the viewpoint of lessening up on our dependency on technology to make connections. And maybe finding a soulmate who can provide security is not so bad if we view security as emotional and mental insurance as opposed to just economical protection. Lessening the generational gap could be possible if we viewed opinions and concepts from a different perspective and simply tried to understand one another. But going back to dating, if you find that you are still looking for love in your life, relax. Despite what Bubbie Kantor says, being alone does not make you sick. It could just mean that you are still in the process of searching for your soulmate, which in the end could make it all the more worthwhile.

Ansari, Aziz, and Eric Klinenberg. Modern Romance: An Investigation. Penguin Books, 2015.

The Possibility of Peace

Climbing Masada

Throughout Freshman Parent’s weekend, I had the opportunity to delve deeper into the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thanks to Professor Kenneth W. Stein. As an expert writer, teacher, and lecturer in the history and politics of the Middle Eastern Studies since 1977, particularly with respect to Israel and Arab-Israeli relations, Stein conveyed major insight into the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, located in room 305 of White Hall. He is currently the President of the Center for Israel Education (CIE); Under Stein’s initiative, Emory has established the Middle East Research Program and the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel – ISMI.

Some background of the matter is that the conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews is a modern phenomenon, dating back to the end of the 19th century. The conflict began as a struggle over land; From the end of World War I until 1948, the area that both groups claimed was known as Palestine. After the Arab-Israeli War of 1947-48, Palestine was divided into the areas we see now: Israel,

Gal at Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Jewish Israelis, whose ancestors began migrating to the area in the 1880s, say their claim to the land is based on a promise from God, as well as for the need of a safe haven after widespread hostility toward the Jewish people, also known as anti-Semitism. In contrast, the Palestinian Arabs believe they are the rightful inhabitants of the land because their ancestors have lived there for hundreds of years prior.

The Gaza Strip is a rectangular piece of land along the Mediterranean coast between Israel and Egypt. The majority of its approximate 1.4 million residents are Palestinian refugees, many of whom have been living in refugee camps for decades. 80 percent were estimated to be living in poverty in mid-2007.

Camel Riding at Bedouin Tents

Israel is a small area—approximately 10,000 square miles. The competing claims to the territory are not reconcilable if one group exercises exclusive political control over all of it. Jewish claims to this land are based on biblical promises to Abraham and his descendants, on the fact that the land was the historical site of the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judea, and on Jews’ need for a haven from European anti-Semitism. Palestinian Arab claims to the land are based on their continuous residence in the country for hundreds of years and the fact that they represented the demographic majority until 1948. They reject the notion that a biblical-era kingdom constitutes the basis for a valid modern claim. They do not believe that they should forfeit their land to compensate Jews for Europe’s crimes against them.

From Professor Stein’s discussion, I learned that Jewish educators shy away from teaching subjects that they deem too political, arguing that politics does not belong in the classroom. Educators of Judaism tend to begin with the premise that Jewish students must learn to solely support Israel and defend its government.

Family in Tel-Aviv

As a niece of my Zionist Aunt and Uncle living in Israel, this concerns me greatly. I tend to question why many Jewish Institutions encourage critical thinking when teaching ancient Jewish texts –challenging students to consider multiple voices, give expression to minority viewpoints and ask difficult questions — but when teaching about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, they avoid this approach.

Educators believe that their role is delineated on teaching young Jews that Israel is the core to their Jewish identity.

The Kotel [Western Wall]
Yet, teachers have a responsibility to teach not only the vision and dream of Israel, but also its harsh reality as well. So, it is seemingly impossible to neglect these appropriate political discussions.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is central to Jewish life. It’s as important to Jewish identity as prayer and the weekly Torah portion. While American Jews can certainly live a prosperous lifestyle without ever thinking about Israel, it remains the epicenter of all Jewish politics. Involving middle and high school students in the debates around the conflict allows them to grapple with Jewish history, explore the many variations of Zionism, and comprehend religious and political differences within the Jewish community.  

Jews must acknowledge the Palestinian perspectives, primarily because we can’t wish Palestinians away nor pretend they don’t exist. We have a moral obligation to listen carefully to their stories and effectively comprehend what they have endured as a result of war and displacement. If we want a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must engage directly with Palestinians — not by criticizing or attacking them, but by genuinely trying to understand their experiences, starting in the classroom.

Military Training Base

The children and teenagers within our Jewish communities are bright, creative and eager to learn. They are capable of discussing divergent viewpoints and can wrestle with difficult issues; They can understand that Israel is a modern nation-state embroiled in a complicated political situation wherein nobody can become neglected. In order to ensure proper learning, young children can sample Israeli and Palestinian foods, attend cultural events, and learn songs in Hebrew and Arabic. Older students can read novels, have structured debates and mock trials, write poems from multiple perspectives and conduct interviews with family members, activists, and scholars.

Many individuals within society want to avoid fruitless debate about the conflict, but within a classroom setting can employ creative teaching techniques that allow students to genuinely engage with the material.  This type of learning will help students prosper, encourage them to develop their own unique ideas about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and foster a sense of respect and understanding for others. These are the kinds of attributes that the next generation of Jewish citizens desperately need.

This topic is one that has remained very close to my heart,

Top of Masada

as my Aunt, Uncle, first cousins, and even their children have suffered and fought through the many wars in which plague israelites every-so-often. On my second trip to Israel last summer, I was immediately captivated by my special country, one that I admired tremendously and soon grew to love over the five weeks I had spent there. Over that summer, like so many others who are drawn to this extraordinary place, I had climbed Masada, swam in the Dead Sea, tasted extravagant foods, met a unique range of individuals, and had driven from one Biblical city onto the next. I had walked through exhibitions of the hell of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, stood on the Golan Heights, spent nights star-gazing in the Negev, and shot an M-16 rifle at one of Israel’s very own Military training bases.


Shooting M-16 in Lower Galilee

Out of those experiences came a steadfast commitment to Israel’s security that has never wavered for a single minute in my 18 years of life. I have also often visited West Bank communities, where I met Palestinians struggling for basic freedom and dignity amidst the occupation and passed by military checkpoints that can make even the most routine daily trips to work or school mundane.

It is held within the vitality of Israel to keep open the possibility of peace, by consistently educating bright individuals, so that we not lose hope in the two-state solution, no matter how difficult it may seem [because there really is no viable alternative]. The plight of many Palestinian refugees is heartbreaking, and many, especially Professor Stein, feel this must be addressed.

Tel-Aviv Beach

As part of commencing a comprehensive resolution, their suffering must be acknowledged, and there will be a need to have options and assistance in locating permanent homes. The international community can provide significant support and assistance, especially starting by educating young students through Jewish organizations and institutions.


If you would like to learn more about Professor Kenneth Stein:

  • http://history.emory.edu/home/people/faculty/stein-kenneth.html
  • https://www.israelinstitute.org/about/leadership/dr-kenneth-w-stein
  • http://www.israelemb.org/washington/Speakers-Guide/Society-and-Politics/Pages/Dr.-Kenneth-W.-Stein.aspx
  • Search for Ken Stein on the Course Atlas for his upcoming lectures


Promoting Plasticity (Especially for Freshman)

This past Monday, we attended “Developmental plasticity and language reorganization after pediatric stroke” at 4:00 p.m. in the Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies (PAIS) building. As we entered the room, we noticed that the audience was composed of many adults, most of whom were faculty in the Psychology Department. Hannah and I even saw our psychology professor and his TAs. The audience was also very dressed up, showing off their fedoras, blazers, and dresses, which made us feel out of place as we looked like we had just finished our day at the gym. As a graduate student introduced Elissa L. Newport, the presenter for the lecture, it quickly became clear to us that Dr. Newport is very well known in the realm of psychology. She began her lecture by stating that she was about to present newly discovered information, which sparked excitement from the crowd. Dr. Newport was also very modest, frequently mentioning her esteemed collaborators from Georgetown University and John Hopkins University.

Dr. Newport framed her lecture by introducing the research questions that she and her colleagues explored during their study: “Is everything endlessly plastic? (Brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize and change). How could this be true?” Their questions provided the audience with a map for Dr. Newport’s lecture. Upon presenting these questions, she gave a disclaimer – “I’m of course not going to answer them, but we’re going to try.” This playful comment added some charm to the lecture and engaged the crowd members, who were responsive to her jokes throughout.

To answer these questions, Newport tested children with perineal strokes, strokes that occurred anytime from the 28 days preceding birth to the 28 days following. These subjects all had left hemisphere strokes, impacting the brain area that is dedicated to understanding and producing language. To determine how the strokes affected the subjects’ language abilities, if at all, Dr. Newport performed several tests on them. The first was the Weschler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WAIS) test, which evaluates intelligence on multiple scales. Rewardingly, I had learned about the WAIS in psychology, and was proud of my familiarity with the terminology. Dr. Newport also gave her subjects an Auditory Description Decision Task (ADDT), in which they had to listen to a sentence, such as “a big, gray animal is an elephant,” and press a button if the sentence is correct. She then compared each subject’s results to his or her sibling’s to determine if the stroke impacted their abilities.

Dr. Newport concluded that when children have left hemisphere strokes, damaging their brain networks for language, the brain reactivates language networks in the right hemisphere. She used brain images to demonstrate that following the stroke, areas in the right hemisphere were activated during language tasks. As the pictures flashed on the screen, Dr. Newport remarked, “I’m assuming that most people in the audience aren’t used to looking at brain imaging,” and preceded to explain their meaning and significance in regards to her research.

Finally, she presented two explanations for how this reorganization occurs. The first and more popular opinion, “Reorganization of Function,” holds that healthy areas of the brain can take over the functions of injured areas. Dr. Newport presented her contrasting thesis called “The Developmental Origins Hypothesis.” In her thesis, Newport asserts that language is more bilateral in children than in adults because children astonishingly utilize both hemispheres of the brain. Therefore, if a child injures one hemisphere, the other undamaged hemisphere is prepared to compensate for any lost abilities.

While the room was intrigued and excited by Newport’s lecture, her presentation was clearly catered to an audience full of other experts in the neurological field. She made jokes for “all of the radiologists in the room,” and as she used complex terms, the crowd rhythmically nodded their heads while we innocently consulted Google. Despite our confusion, the audience’s expert knowledge was inspirational. The room was clearly full of experts in the psychology field, and it was motivational to see that these established individuals were so passionate that they committed their Monday afternoon to learning about new psychological discoveries.

At the end of her lecture, Dr. Newport said “Feel free to ask me questions,” consistent with her accessible demeanor. The passion-filled audience took her up on her offer. Inclined to learn more about the subject, nearly all audience members, uncharacteristic of Emory, remained glued to their chairs during question time.

Unfortunately, lectures that require prior knowledge can be daunting and unappealing to freshman. Although we may not have understood everything in Dr. Newport’s lecture, we found the experience worthwhile. Dr. Newport’s presentation not only taught us groundbreaking brain research but also gave us a true experience of learning for learning’s sake. Emory should advertise these lectures in a way that encourages undergraduate attendance, particularly freshman. Because we know that Emory is busy fixing its wifi (we hope), we took advertising lectures into our own hands.

Attention Freshman


“Elissa L. Newport.” Association for Psychological Science, www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/25at25/elissa-l-newport.html.

“Elissa Newport, Ph.D.” Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery | Georgetown University, cbpr.georgetown.edu/faculty/elissa_newport.

“Human Brain Pictures, Images and Stock Photos.” Human Brain Pictures, Images and Stock Photos – iStock. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.istockphoto.com/photos/human-brain?excludenudity=true&mediatype=photography&page=2&phrase=human brain&sort=mostpopular.

“Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics – Current Episodes – RS 149 – Susan Gelman on “How essentialism shapes our thinking”.” Rationally Speaking Podcast, rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/show/rs-149-susan-gelman-on-how-essentialism-shapes-our-thinking.html.

“Emory Infant and Child Lab.” Philippe Rochat, www.psychology.emory.edu/cognition/rochat/lab/Rochat.html.

“Arnon Lotem.” Https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Arnon_Lotem.

SpelHouse outdoes Emory


Morehouse College and Spelman College are part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUC), which comprises of one co-ed school, one all male school, and one all female school; Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College respectively. Each of the colleges in the AUC are also Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), meaning they have an overwhelmingly high black student population. Morehouse and Spelman celebrate their homecomings together in what is known as the “SpelHouse Homecoming” every year. They have events throughout the week, including a concert on Wednesday and a homecoming football game on Saturday.

Flyer for the concert.
The chaotic line outside Forbes Arena.



Michael: I jumped out of my seat during film class as I received a text on my phone. The words “Travis Scott this Wednesday at Morehouse” made me ecstatic as I quickly flipped open my laptop and purchased a ticket. My favorite artist was performing in Atlanta and all my friends were coming with me. Two days later we found ourselves in a swarm of people 6,000 deep. We were pushed, shoved, and even cursed out as everyone made a mad rush to the door. The shouts of the security guards only made the crowd even more disorderly as students began to bang on the glass. “Move back! We need everyone to move back!”, but nobody was listening as the crowd of people slammed into the doors like a wave crashing into the shore. The reflection of red and blue police lights on the glass windows illuminated the excited faces of the crowd. The concert started at 8pm and it was already 9:30pm. Suddenly a scream was heard from the right side of the mob as multiple student were seen frantically wiping pepper spray from theirs eyes. With the fear that the chaos would only escalate, many AUC students began to disperse, but we were not ready to give up. Being one of the few white students in the crowd, some people were giving me dirty looks. They tried to tell me that I would be denied at the door because I was not an AUC student. I tried to tell them it was open to the public, but they refused to listen. Although I was frustrated by this, I understood their perspective as it was SpelHouse homecoming meant mostly for the AUC students. As I received these dirty looks from all angles, one Morehouse student named Hilliard took us under his wing and led our entire group to the doors. Once we finally made our way through security, we rushed into the gymnasium and found some great seats on the bleachers. Though we tried to find space on the floor, the gym was clearly reaching maximum capacity as it was extremely packed. After Travis’ expected late arrival, the concert began and the whole crowd went crazy.

Saturday’s tailgate.

Zion: My older sister Ashia is currently a Junior at Spelman College and this weekend happened to align perfectly for my family. Emory University and Spelman College both had their homecomings on the same weekend and this weekend was also parents weekend at Emory. Our mom decided to come down from Maryland to Atlanta and we got to spend the weekend together. On Saturday, my family and I attended the SpelHouse tailgate before Morehouse’s homecoming game later that day. The plan was for my sister to meet us over there, so my mom came and picked me up from Emory that morning. Trying to find parking was an absolute nightmare given the amount of people who showed up for the event. We ended having to pay $25 to park a few blocks down, but we were determined to have a good time. Once we finally arrived at the tailgate we were met with a huge crowd of people. There were families with children, current students, and alumni who had come back to visit. The air was filled with a sort of electric energy that I can’t quite describe. We quickly found my sister and she introduced us to some of her friends before disappearing again into the crowd. My mom and I didn’t stay long, however, as I had to get back to Emory for a track meet later that afternoon.

Since our blog comes from the perspective of two outsiders, we decided to interview Chris Moye, who has attended Morehouse homecomings all his life.

Tell me about your experiences at Morehouse homecomings when you were younger.

“My experiences at homecoming consisted of going to the tailgate before the football game, and meeting alumni. It was always one of the things that I looked forward to in the fall when I was growing up.”

What do you think about the Morehouse community and AUC?

“I love the Morehouse community and the AUC. I have dealt with many Morehouse men and members of the AUC since childhood, and I have yet to meet someone who makes me think negatively about Morehouse, or the AUC as a whole; Morehouse and the AUC as a whole is essentially a giant family.”

How have the homecomings changed since you were younger?

“The access that I have to certain homecoming events has changed as I have gotten older. In years past, there wasn’t as much corporate involvement in the Morehouse homecomings, but they are now hosted by large companies like Ford and Viacom.”

Morehouse Homecoming 2017

After attending both homecomings, there was a clear distinction between the two schools. Though the endowments of both universities are quite disparate, it was evident that Morehouse puts more effort and creativity into its homecoming compared to Emory. The energy at Morehouse was significantly greater as the community was extremely tight-knit and lively. Whether it was the thrill of the concert or the celebrations at the tailgate, we both realized that the AUC truly moves and acts as one big family. Traveling to Morehouse was more than just a change in environment, it was a change in spirit and morale. The school showed signs of unity and harmony that we never knew existed on campuses. After interviewing Chris it was clear that the AUC homecomings continue to grow as more money is put into events through sponsorships with large companies. Without a football team, we expected Emory to focus heavily on community events, but we realized that our school lacks one essential aspect of campus life: school spirit. It seems that nobody is excited about campus events unless it is required for PACE. Following our visits to Morehouse and Spelman, we both walked away with a newfound understanding about what campus culture truly should be. When talking to Zion’s sister, a current student at Spelman, she noted that at this year’s concert there was an unusually high number of people who did not attend one of the AUC schools. She also explained that while each school is its own entity, the level of school spirit is unparalleled to other schools. The AUC is much more than a community, it is a family, and to see people who aren’t part of that family at the events understandably rubbed some students the wrong way, but it truly shows the excitement it brings.  The sight of thousands of students all coming together and celebrating the year was quite incredible and really inspired us to create this same community and awareness at Emory.

Emory’s lack of school spirit.


EliDaGreat420. “MAMACITA Instrumental.” YouTube, YouTube, 13 Dec. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3356l1sNMg.

“Home.” Atlanta University Center Consortium, aucenter.edu/.



“Travis Scott In Concert – Atlanta, Georgia.” Getty Images, www.gettyimages.com/event/travis-scott-in-concert-atlanta-georgia-775061638?esource=SEO_GIS_CDN_Redirect#rapper-travis-scott-performs-onstage-in-during-morehouse-homecoming-picture-id862986640.


-Michael and Zion

A Dream Parents Weekend

This past week was crazy for me. Being that it was Homecoming Week and I’m in Student Programming Council, the student organization that runs Homecoming, I was so relieved that I got Saturday off because my family was coming for Parents Weekend. I thought that this would be a perfect time to go out on the town and give my family a taste of Atlanta by going to the historic site of The King Center.

King Center Sign

The King Center was established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King to continue Dr. King’s Dream and preserve his legacy. This living monument educates patrons about non-violence and civil rights in an effort to inspire future generations to carry out Dr. King’s legacy. The King Center does more than memorializing Dr. and Mrs. King. It also features many other important champions of civil rights, past and present. The first place I stopped on my self-guided tour of The King

The tile of Rosa Park in the Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

Center was the Civil Rights Walk of Fame. The Civil Rights Walk of Fame was established to honor people with significant contributions to equality. Some of those featured include Rosa Parks, Magic Johnson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Bill Clinton, NeYo, and Dr. Maya Angelou just to name a few. The Walk of Fame is updated each year with new inductees. The Walk of Fame ended with a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired Dr. King’s non-violent philosophy. It’s hard to explain, but the whole area exuded an air of enlightenment and reflection. All around there were plaques with passages and quotes from Dr. King with one-word titles like “Mandate” and “Motivation.” Thos definitely added to the aforementioned feel.

After passing the World Peace Rose Garden, I went to the Historic Ebenezer

The Sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church

Baptist Church. Ebenezer Baptist Church is the pastoral home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sr. The church was restored in 2011 to its 1960s state. Being in the church was really nostalgic. Going to church was a big part of my life when I was younger.  My family is pretty religious, so being in the traditional style church made me feel like I’ve been there before. Whether it’s was the beautiful kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows, the wooden pews, or the red carpet, I was just so fascinated by the place. Even my dad felt that there was just something about being in there that interested him and it was his favorite spot of the tour.

Stained Glass Windows

After leaving the sanctuary, I went downstairs into the fellowship room. It was a small room with tile floors. There

The Fellowship room

were rows of chairs that people could sit and watch a video about the church.  Different fact boards line the walls and there were two glass cases with artifacts such as photographs, Bibles, and shards of glass from the original Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The final part of the tour ended at Freedom Hall. I didn’t have much time to explore because I had to go to work, but this area didn’t have too much to explore because of construction. In preparation of the 50th anniversary of Dr.  King’s assassination and the establishment of The King Center, there are renovations going on in Freedom Hall, the Crypt, and Reflecting Pool. Even with the renovation, I still enjoyed my experience. Going to the King Center made me really reflect and think about

Freedom Hall

how much of an impact Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement had on my life. Without going through the obvious historic and political route, references to civil rights are all around me.  I was always very involved with Black History Month in school and for a while, I’ve been that person to always talk about black issues and address civil rights in general. Weirdly, Dr. King has had an impact on my poetry because of his performativity when giving speeches. Going back to the Civil Rights Walk of Fame, one of the people I didn’t mention was Roberto Goizueta, who’s the namesake of the b-school. I’m also a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar and my sponsor is Hank and Billye Aaron, Hank Aaron is also featured on the Walk of Fame. My dorm is decorated with MLK and Malcolm X posters and other nods to black culture.  And overall I want to work in a career dealing with civil rights, education inequality, etc. I’m not saying this to say to have some theory of fate. I think the bigger picture is that a lot of times we don’t notice how the things around us shape our futures. Being that we’re college students, it’s nice to just think about how different experiences guide our decisions. It’s great to do this now because soon we’ll be able to declare our majors and a little later down the road, we’re going to be choosing career paths. These are very big decisions, but I think that reflection is a good way of preparing for a big decision.

The King Center is open seven days a week from 9am-5pm. If you want to learn more or plan a visit, you can check out their website by clicking on this link

The Law School Panel: Emory BLSA & Emory BPLS







On Wednesday night, the Emory Black Law Student Association crossed Clifton Road and met up with the Emory Black Pre Law Society to answer questions regarding the dos and don’ts of undergraduate life when you are preparing for law school in the future. The attendance for this event was lower than any other Black Pre Law Society event thus far, surprisingly. It was mostly law school students and seniors in the college. The discussion took place in the form of a panel.


Who was on the panel?


  • A first year law student (referred to as a “1L”)
  • A third year law student who also had the perspective of working in the law school admissions office and is a transfer student (“3L”)
  • A non-practicing attorney who attended Hampton and Mercer Law, she has a law based Youtube channel(“AT”)


The moderator asked a question to the panel and they could respond as they felt appropriate and often times would “piggyback” off of each other’s answers and throw in more tips and strategies. Some of the most fitting questions for first years and their most helpful and common answers are listed below!


Why did you decide to go to law school? What type of law are you planning to practice?


1L: I had no intentions of going to law school until my senior year of college. I had a fashion degree from FIT and found a way to combine that with law after having tons of discussions with one of my professors and just went from there.

3L: I have known since high school. Law school was just always the route for me. I plan to practice labor and unemployment law.

AT: I have a weirder story. Everyone in my family has been divorced at least once, so I just knew divorce law was for me. I wanted to have a huge billboard off the side of 85. Now I am in law school recruitment instead so you never know where your JD will take you.


How did you study for the LSAT?


1L: I used the Blueprint test prep course, and a whole lot of brutal self study.

3L: I used the Kaplan test prep, but would not recommend it at all. Kaplan isn’t individualistic enough and if I had to do it all over, I would get a private tutor.

AT: I did the Kaplan live online course, and very little self study. I only got a 140 the first time, so I did the in class Kaplan to bring up my score. If I could do it all over, I would take at least 30 practice exams.  


Do you have any tips for writing the personal statement?


3L: Emory wants to know what you learned from your experiences and how you plan to implement that in the Emory community. Your personal statement doesn’t have to be some life changing event, they would rather see something you’re passionate about than a really prestigious award.

AT: BE PERSONAL! Stop being hella generic. If I never have to see the sentence, “I have been through so much adversity,” I would be happy. For most law schools, there is no interview aspect so your personal statement needs to be very telling.

  • tell a story or have a consistent theme
  • talk about specific law school plans (what kind of law you want to practice)
  • talk about specific reasons you are applying to the law school you’re applying to


What was most important when you were choosing law schools?



  1. Scholarships
  2. Connections
  3. Location



  1. Diversity
  2. Location
  3. Scholarships



  1. Diversity
  2. Black Law Student Association Presence
  3. Location/Cost of Living



Overall, I feel that the small crowd size made for a comfortable, more informal environment. The panelists were open and really wanted to see the undergraduate students succeed. They offered their cards to attendees and encouraged us to keep our studies first. I also think the panelist’s different backgrounds allowed them to have a wide variety of perspectives on the law school application experience, yet they still firmly agreed with each other on certain things.

NY for the Weekend

It all began with a text I had received from my mom approximately four days prior to Fall Break: “Clear your schedule for this upcoming Saturday,” it read. “We’re going into the City at 5:45 for your final birthday surprise.”

As I had celebrated my birthday just a week prior to Fall Break, it was the very first time I had not been awoken to the sweet aroma of freshly made chocolate chip pancakes, steaming hot coffee, all accompanied by a side of extremely ripe berries, prepared by Mother Dearest. It was the first time I hadn’t been home to see the jolting excitement gleaming from my mother’s eyes as I had turned one year older. Rather, this year had been spent in close proximity to a variety of new friends, new adventurous foods, and a completely contrasting city than my hometown of New York. While all of these factors were of course enticing, and being away from home on my 18th birthday sure had its perks, I maintained an utter void within my heart that seemingly could not be filled.

Bailey & Nala

The days before break truly could not have moved slower, but I had finally arrived home after an exhausting trek through Hartsfield Jackson into Laguardia Airport on Friday evening. I was initially tackled down by my two dogs, and was welcomed into the familiarity of home once again.

“Okay so, I didn’t want to cook too much, but I’ve prepared a few things for your arrival this weekend,” my mom began to emphatically recite every meal she had cooked throughout the past week ~ WITH a broken wrist. “I made you roasted chicken, your favorite Maztoh Ball Soup, sweet potato pie, brisket and a variety of vegetables. Oh, and I also made a Kugel with this new recipe I tried. I also bought a turkey, so you’ll tell me if you want me to make that too, okay?”

Sweet Potato Pie

My mouth dropped wide open and I began to crack up. “Ma,” I said, “you really didn’t have to go through all that trouble. But thank you so much, I’ve really missed your cooking.”

And I meant that sincerely; Becoming a first-year college student has allowed me to recognize and appreciate all that I was granted while growing up, and just how lucky I’d been to have someone in this world who cares so deeply for me. I took a walk through the kitchen, and wow, the aroma truly smelt incredible. I guess since I was absent for the Jewish holidays she wanted to replicate every single meal for me. And, well, that is what she did.

NYC Skyline

As Saturday evening approached, my patience was wearing thin. My mom came into my room with a blindingly bright smile, exclaiming: “I got us tickets to Dear Evan Hansen!!!!”

I was booming with enthusiasm. Up until the age of nine, my annual birthday celebrations would usually entail seeing some form of Broadway Show with my Mom: either Mary Poppins, Wicked, Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, and many others. With that thought in mind, I immediately harkened back to those special moments we shared together when I was a child. Excitement prevailed, so we quickly scarfed down some steaming hot soup and went on our way. As we arrived, we made our way to our respective seats and awaited the performance.

As a spectator, I initially noticed the purposeful lighting on stage: blue lighting to represent sadder moments; whiter tones to represent suspense; warm yellow tones to represent happiness. I began to analyze the performativity of the show, not only while enjoying the vibrant song and role play, but to better comprehend the producer’s intended rhetoric for the audience of Broadway.

Momma & I

I had been looking forward to seeing this Broadway show for quite some time. The story line is as follows: Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) is a seventeen year old High School student, diagnosed with an anxiety disorder simply out of his own control. Wearing a striped short-sleeved shirt, he sits on his bed and pecks away at his computer, only somewhat hindered by the hard white cast on his left arm. As he types on his computer — FaceTimes, iChats, Facebook images, and Tweets — are projected onto walls which surround him. But the person Evan is writing to is in the room; He doesn’t have many friends, and on the advice of his therapist, he addresses supportive letters to himself in order to improve his self-esteem.

As a culprit of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I too felt extremely moved and consistently taken back at how relative and spot-on Ben Platt’s performance was; Tears, laughs, and wales erupted from all members of the audience. Almost every person was wiping their eyes at some point or another. However, what truly struck me was the main actor’s iconic mannerisms: the hunched posture he maintained throughout the show, the facial tics and nail-biting with repetitive worrying of his fingers at the seam of his pants, the way in which he never for a moment lost his finely grained physical expression of Evan, even in the midst of the 11 songs that he performs (three of which are wrenching solos). He conveys such longing, loneliness, guilt and shame in those songs through his vocals – of course – but also through the many pained contortions of his body and face.

Dear Evan Hansen Playbill

It’s hard to envision a character in a musical who is so relatable to so many people in the crowd each night — teenagers struggling with anxiety, parents clinging to whatever fine thread still connects them to their kids, people who are ashamed of something they’ve done or who fear that they are unlovable. It seems like a more intense level of responsibility, psychologically speaking, than most Broadway stars have ever had to bear.

As the show came to a close, my mom and I were emotionally drained. With a look of exhaustion and sadness swept across our faces, this profound performance moved us in ways in which I’ve never really experienced before.

We then took a long stroll to the parking garage and decided to stop for a classic slice of pizza on the way. The show was so moving, insightful, and unique that it truly left us speechless. We shoveled mouthfuls of pizza into our faces and smiled. We weren’t speaking, but we both just happy. My mom maintained her genuine grin and muttered, “I couldn’t have imagined seeing this show with anyone else; It was just so perfect.”

I nodded and agreed, and thanked her for such a wonderfully special evening. As we stepped into the car and took our quick ride back to Long Island, it struck me: I was never able to view just how unique and worthwhile the maintenance of such a close mother/daughter relationship can be. I felt so lucky that night to have seen such a heart-wrenching performance next to a woman with a heart bigger than this world. I will always cherish how close we are, the laughs we share, and the cries we’ve endured simultaneously, as I believe our relationship will remain strong for the rest of my life.

Sandro Hijacks Jared and Hannah’s Blog Post

“Maybe we can just pretend that we went,” I thought to myself as our Uber’s estimated time of arrival extended from seven minutes to half a century. After 15 minutes of waiting and two missed calls to the Uber driver later, we canceled the ride and ordered another one. This time, a lovely gentleman named Daran picked us up. Little did I know that this man would soon become my best friend. After discussing his graduate studies at Georgia Tech, war, my family origins and global warming, I wondered whether I could ask Daran for his number, knowing that I would probably want to catch up with him later and find out how he and his girlfriend were doing. Sadly, we live in an imperfect world dictated by social norms that deem asking your Uber driver for personal information to spark a friendship “weird”.

Sandro befriending our Uber driver Daran.

When we arrived at Centennial Olympic Park, I shook Daran’s hand, wished him and his girlfriend the best, and sadly bid him adieu. “Wow,” I thought to myself as we exited the Uber to see the historically significant and beautiful Centennial Olympic Park before us, “this is about to be really boring.” All I could think about, besides Daran, was that I would finally get to walk backward with Jared.

We began our journey by learning about the park’s origins. The park commemorates the 1996 Centennial Summer Olympic Games, which Atlanta hosted. The city dedicated $75 million to developing Downtown Atlanta, ensuring it was fit to house the games and creating a commercial center in Atlanta, including the Georgia Aquarium, Center for Civil and Human Rights, College Football Hall of Fame, CNN, Delta Airlines and the World of Coca-Cola. Centennial Park continues the legacy of the 1996 games and its subsequent impact on Atlanta.

Confused about where to begin our exploration of the park, we were relieved to find that it had an accompanying Audio Tour. Today, we will take you along with us as we tour the park and share our experiences.

Allen Family Tribute

The Allen Family Tribute has been fenced off during construction of the park.

Our tour begins with the Allen Family Tribute. This 15-foot-tall structure pays tribute to the three generations of the Allen family, who helped shape the city of Atlanta. On the note of family, this part of the park always reminds me of my first experience at Centennial Olympic Park nearly six years ago with my family. My parents were so excited to show me and my younger brother the spot where they watched the 1996 Olympic Games together, and I vividly remember them pointing out this landmark as a testimonial to the importance of family. Come along so we can see what else this place has in store…

Gateway of Dreams

Stop Two.
Sandro poses alongside Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

The Gateway of Dreams is a monument of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games. Coubertin’s sculpture is three times his height, representing his legacy and impact on the Olympics. The plaque below the sculpture describes Coubertin’s “dream of a world united in peace through sport.” But the only thing going through my mind was that this man could rock the stache, and honestly, not everyone can. I bet Hunter could, though.

Androgyne Planet

Stop Three.

“What do aliens have to do with the Olympic Games?” I thought as I looked up at the vast statue before me and put on my tin foil hat. This totem represents the Games’ spirit of international unity. To create this spirit of unity, each host city donates a piece of art to the next city. At least my tin foil hat won’t let the statue’s telekinetic powers into my brain. This is what the planet must really be built for, let’s be honest.

Children’s Garden and Playground

Stop four.
An activity at the accessible Children’s Playground.

We are now stepping on the rubber floors of the Centennial Olympic Park’s Children’s Playground. This play space is dedicated to the younger kids that frequent the park and is designed for children with all ranges of physical abilities. The aisles between various activities are wide, and all activities on the playground are accessible, capturing the essence of the park as an all-inclusive venue. I am reminded of my frequent trips to Aiden’s Playground, an accessible park in Los Angeles, with my mother, previously a Disability Rights Lawyer, who was highly supportive of its design.

Paralympic Legacy

Stop Five.
The four pillars of “Paralympic Legacy.”

On the note of inclusivity, the monument that we are now approaching commemorates the Atlanta Paralympic Games, a sports competition for athletes with disabilities. The pillars that surround the monument represent the commitment, leadership, diversity, and excellence that characterized the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games. “Paralympic Legacy” serves as a reminder of the pursuit of excellence that the Paralympics inspire.

Quilt of Nations

Stop 6.
The Quilt of Nations.
Sandro planking on the water that weaves through the five quilts.

A man-made series of beautifully landscaped, cascading water features weave through the five Quilt Plazas, including the Quilt of Nations. The Quilt of Nations honors all 197 nations that participated in the 1996 Games. This was the largest number of countries ever represented in the history of the Olympic Games. Seeing the flag of the Country of Georgia, I feel a sense of pride that Georgia was a part of this historical Olympic Games. For the first time, I began to realize the significance of the park.

Quilt of Olympic Spirit

Stop Seven.
Jared pointing to his parents’ brick.

This landmark salutes the 10,000 athletes who participated in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Inscribed in granite is a list that names all 184 medalists. The names “Soso Liparteliani” and “Eldar Kurtanidze” immediately catch my attention. Not only did I meet these Georgian Olympic medalists personally, but seeing these names reinforces the park’s focus on international unity. These names were engraved beside those of fellow Russian athletes, citizens of the same country that occupied Georgian territories and bombed our cities 12 years later.

Quilt of Origins

Stop Eight.
The Quilt of Origins.

We’re now at the Quilt of Origins, a sculpture that depicts the advancement of the Olympic Games from ancient Greece until today. The work of art weighs eight tons and features three figures: a nude man (representing Greece – where the first Olympics were held), another man who looks much more contemporary (representing the style of the modern Olympics), and a female (representing the Atlanta Olympic Games). As you can see, there are bricks implanted in the pathways all around us, covering the entire park. These bricks are the names of the individuals who donated in securing this structure that stands before us. My parents even purchased one, serving as a unique reminder of their time that they spent living in Atlanta. Let’s now go on to the Quilt of Remembrance.

Quilt of Remembrance

Stop Nine.
The quote that captured Hannah’s experience at the park.

This mosaic acts as a reminder for those who were injured from the bomb that went off during the Atlanta Olympics. 111 stones are placed here from all around the world to pay respect to the 111 people hurt by the bombing. My parents remember hearing the bomb at the Olympics, and the chaotic scene that followed. They, like the rest of the world, also remember the Games reopening soon after this domestic terrorist attack, serving as a triumph of the human spirit and great character of Atlanta. Alice Hawthorne was the only person who died from this tragedy, and the eternal light is always shining at this site in her memory.

Quilt of Dreams

Stop 10.
Sculpture of Billy Payne.

The quilt above us holds tribute to Billy Payne, CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. Payne is responsible for bringing the Olympics to Atlanta, a 10 year quest that was successful on its first bid. Another dream of Payne’s, this park is the physical manifestation of countless inspirational feats. As we walk along the quilt, I would like to point out a quote that encompasses the importance of the Atlanta Olympics: “I can think of no better event than the Olympics to introduce the world to the progressive capital of the new South” (Andrew Young). In a sense, exploring Centennial Park has introduced me to downtown Atlanta – to its many opportunities and its deeper significance.

Hermes Towers/Centennial Plaza

Stop 11.
Centennial Plaza and the stormy clouds above.

Even the dimensions of our next stop are symbolic. Centennial Plaza is 100 meters squared, equivalent to the distance of the 100 meter Olympic race. The flags of the 23 past host cities circle the Plaza. Eight “Hermes Towers” are also mounted around the Plaza to emulate the indicators that directed Ancient Greek spectators to public happenings.

Fountain of Rings

Stop 12.
The Fountain of Rings during its daily water show.

We’re now at one of the most iconic landmarks in this park and the city of Atlanta…the Fountain of Rings. The fountain has four daily shows (at 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 9:00 p.m.) that combine music, lighting, and, of course, water. The fountain is also a great place to play and relax. I still see a view of the fountain whenever I take an airplane ride from Cleveland to Atlanta, and this reminds me of the Olympic Games my parents attended as well as my family’s Atlanta history.

Southern Company Amphitheater

The 13th and final stop.
The Southern Company Amphitheater.

We will now conclude our tour at the location that embodies the true purpose of Centennial Olympic Park as a communal space. This open venue hosts events on 186 days of the year, committed to providing free entertainment for the whole family. Olympic Park is central to the Atlanta community, appealing to individuals of all ages and all ranges of ability. All visitors need is the openness to learn and to be inspired.

Our Uber ride back simply wasn’t the same. I did not connect to our driver in a powerful way. Perhaps this is because I didn’t get to tell him about the public executions of my great-grandfathers or because I was too side-tracked reflecting on my ultimately positive experience of Centennial Olympic Park. The park inspired thoughts about unity, peace, and internationality. But a single thing I had learned from the day’s outing truly stuck out to me: “Humanity is always being tested in some way, shape or form” (Daran).

“God damn it Daran, why didn’t I ask for your number?”

To follow along on the official audio tour that inspired this post, please visit https://www.gwcca.org/park/visiting-the-park/audio-tour/.

Westboro Baptist TRIED It Yet Again

Over 20 years ago, October was named as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) History Month by the National Education Association.  October is also known for National Coming Out Day which is held on October 11th. Every year since its conception in 1971, Atlanta Pride, one of the oldest pride parades in the US, was held around this time every year. This year the Atlanta Pride Parade was held on October 15th. Pride, in general, is a sea of bright colors and rainbow flags, but the parade took this to a whole new level. The parade had a record-breaking turnout with over 250,00 people in attendance.

For some background information, the LGBTQ+ community is a minority group of different sexualities and gender identities.  Pride parades started after the Stonewall riots in 1969. The Stonewall Inn was a club that was very accepting of LGBTQ+ patrons; many other clubs prohibited gay people from having liquor, people dancing with the same sex, men in feminine clothes as well as women with less than 3 articles of feminine clothing. The Stonewall Inn even took in homeless LGBTQ+ youth and let them stay there. However, on June 28, 1969, the police raided Stonewall and roughly hauled off employees and patrons which destroyed the sense of the place being a place of refuge. For six days afterward, there were demonstrations and clashes between law enforcement. Fast-forward a few years and Pride was established to celebrate LGBTQ+ culture and pride and serve as demonstrations for legal rights such as same-sex marriage.

Now let’s get to my Atlanta Pride experience. I asked my best friend from back home if he wanted to come to Pride and he was like “that’s not a question because you already know we’re going.” Fast-forward a few days and my friend’s 4-hour bus ride to Atlanta and we arrive at my first Pride. The air was electric from all of the excitement and energy. We saw floats from businesses, radio stations, and even some churches. As we got lost trying to find Emory’s space in the parade lineup, we kept saying how different this was from Pride back home and it’s to be expected since Atlanta was once ranked as the most LGBT friendly city by the magazine The Advocate. Atlanta Pride blocked off a whole chunk of Downtown Atlanta from the MARTA Civic Center Station to Piedmont Park while South Carolina Pride is just about one street of Downtown Columbia. Atlanta Pride had floats as far as the eye can see and it was amazing to see so many people coming out for an event like this. As we talked about these differences, we passed by vendors selling all types of LGBTQ+ flags and memorabilia. We also noticed peoples’ style choices from drag to very liberal showings of skin. Eventually, we found the Emory van. At first, there wasn’t a lot of people with Emory, but that was probably because the van was so hard to find. After a while, the Emory area was a sea of students and faculty from Emory’s numerous schools: Emory College, Oxford, Rollins, etc. It was so much fun just hanging out with so many LGBTQ+ people and allies. We painted each others’ faces, sang together, and there was a ton of discussion of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

As the parade got started, I was reminded of my old days in marching band. There’s just something about the environment of a parade that increases your own performativity. It’s natural to me to give a performance and have the crowd respond, but during Pride, the crowd was the ones giving the energy and excitement. The air was electrifying and there was not one sad face in sight… well except for the Westboro Baptist Church who comes to Pride every year to preach their anti-gay agenda, but there a special case. Originally, I thought that would have more of an impact, but honestly, their bullhorns were nothing compared to our music and loud cheering. The organizers of Pride specifically put people in front of them with big flowers to try to block their hateful signs and stuff which they did a really good job of. Even with the ones left, we just waved rainbow flags in front of and laughed like “Y’all thought. You tried it, but we’re still gonna have a good gay old time. You can have several seats.” As we passed the corner of haters, we had the final stretch of the parade all the way to Piedmont Park. There was a ton of different vendor and they were setting up the stage for a performance, but my group of friends and I didn’t stay for too long because we were so tired. We didn’t realize it during the parade because of the amount of energy, but once we stopped and sat down it hit us like a truck.

Overall my Pride experience was great. I can definitely say that it was one of the highlights of my freshman year so far and I’ll definitely be back next year. It’s great to see that Emory really supports the LGBTQ+ community and the fact that Emory has “the 10th oldest LGBT campus office in the nation.” LGBTQ+ youth are at a significantly higher risk for depression, suicide, and substance abuse compared to heterosexual counterparts, according to the CDC. The CDC also has studies that find that LGBTQ+ students are “140% more likely to not go to school at least one day during the past 30 days because of safety concerns” and also ” nearly one-third of LGBTQ+ youth had attempted suicide at least once in the prior year compared to 6% of heterosexual youth.” It’s important that LGBTQ+ youth have places where they can feel accepted and supported; this is why I highly encourage going to Pride. If you’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community, go to Pride. It’s a lot of fun and you’ll be surrounded by people who love you and support you without even knowing you. If you have a friend that’s LGBTQ+, go to Pride with them. Be one of the people to love and support them. One of the reasons I chose Emory and really wanted to go out of state for college was I knew that I would have much more of a support system here and I could be very open and authentic. Emory’s Office of LGBT Life is very active. There are different weekly queer discussion groups such as Queer Men of Color, Aces & Aros, etc. There’s also Emory Pride, a student organization that has weekly GBMs discussing different LGBTQ+ topics. Also, all students can schedule appointments with Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) which a certain number of is covered by tuition. With all these resources and such a vibrant city, I truly feel like I’m in a place where I can thrive.

Picture Gallery

Below are some LGBTQ+ resources:

  • The Trevor Project: www.thetrevorproject.org | 24/7 Helpline 866-488-7386
  • Emory CAPS: For appointments 404-727-6111 | Crisis 404-727-7450
  • Emory Office of LGBT Life: 1st floor of AMUC | www.lgbt.emory.edu