Hi fellow upSTANDers!
My name is Mickey Jackson, and I’m a sophomore at the Catholic University of America in DC. Like many of you, I’m currently in the process of forming a new STAND chapter on my campus. I’ve agreed to live blog the “new chapter experience” over the upcoming semester to share observations, ideas, tips, and (perhaps most importantly) lessons learned from my efforts to build a sustainable and active student anti-genocide organization.
For this initial post, however, I want to share my “story of STAND”—why and how I came to be involved in the anti-genocide movement. My interest began in my freshman year of high school when I watched Hotel Rwanda, which, in addition to being a moving story of human compassion, strongly indicts the rest of the world (and the United States in particular) for its abandonment of Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. The film concludes with an appeal for action to address the conflict in Darfur, which at the time had only recently been labeled as the first genocide of the 21st century.
After seeing the film, I did a little more research about Rwanda and Darfur, and came across a quote from the late Senator Paul Simon: “If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we had to do something about Rwanda…then I think the response would have been different.” This was the moment when I realized two things: one, which the world would continue to allow such atrocities to occur unless ordinary citizens rose up and demanded otherwise; and two, that I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines, but rather wanted to be a part of that movement. Inspired by Senator Simon’s words, I began encouraging my family and friends to write letters to their representatives about Darfur. Shortly thereafter, I found out that another student at my high school had formed a STAND chapter, and quickly started attending meetings and helping to plan events.
I served as the president of my high school chapter during my sophomore and junior years, and then, at the beginning of my senior year, joined the Student Leadership Team as the Southwest High School Regional Outreach Coordinator. After that, during my freshman year of college, I served on the Managing Committee as the National High School Outreach Coordinator and got to work with absolutely incredible activists from all over the US. At the end of last year, I left the MC to focus on building the new chapter at CUA.
Ultimately, my story is probably pretty similar to yours, and to the stories of thousands of other STAND activists around the country: I discovered that genocide was still occurring in our world, and decided that I wanted to do my part to make “Never again” a reality instead of an empty slogan. That, in a nutshell, is why I’m still involved with STAND, and why I’m starting my chapter. I look forward to sharing that experience with you over the next few months, and hope that you find it both interesting and informative.
Thanks for reading, and stay posted!