NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over the past year, Rutgers University and the surrounding towns have been the target of bias and hate incidents.
Locally, community activists have taken steps to combat these hate incidents, be it through art or community organizer.
On Jan. 23, Rutgers University officials brought in Dolores Huerta, a civil rights activists of nearly half a century, to delve into how the university can move forward with that effort, whether through marching in the streets or continually making it to the ballot box.
Huerta encouraged a renowned effort in voting and community activism, such as the recent Women’s Marches, which drew in tens of thousands of protesters across the state.
“I went through the 1960s and, by the way, if some of you missed the 1960s, we’re back,” Huerta told audience. “We now have a chance for you to participate so that we can change the situation that we’re in.”
Huerta’s presentation was part of Rutgers’ second annual “Dream Week,” a week of paying homage to different civil rights and social justice activists.
The Jan. 23 lecture was organized by the university’s cultural centers, the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities at Rutgers and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
Huerta, now 87, had been awarded two Presidential Medals of Freedom, marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and rallied for workers rights. She was the keynote speak for Rutgers' Dream Week.
“As an organizer, I say this is an opportunity, because many of the organizations that are active today, like the second wave of the women’s movement, the LGBT movement, the civil rights movement, they were just starting out then in the 60’s and 70’s, but now they’re institutionalized,” Huerta said.
As the 2018 midterm elections of President Trump are gearing up to be a tooth and nail fight in contested Congressional districts, Huerta told the audience it’s vital for activists to go beyond just voting, and go on to phone bank and knock on doors, encouraging people to vote for more “progressive candidates.”
In terms of bias and hate incidents, the university’s stance has been that they’re protected by the First Amendment.
TAPinto New Brunswick is partnering with ProPublica to track hate crimes in the region. The partnership is part of a nationwide project to track and report bias incidents across the country.