NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The youthful voices of some 750 Rutgers University students spoke out against racism Sunday, spurred on by George Floyd's death.
After gathering at Brower Commons - the site of student-led protests against Apartheid in the 1980s and the Rodney King beating in the 1990s - the crowd marched down College Avenue.
Faustina Owoh, vice president of the Scarlet Knights chapter of the NAACP, said it was unclear how many would show for the protest since Rutgers initiated online education in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I came out and saw so many people here," she said. "So many people getting involved. So many people coming out of their comfort zone to speak. It's such a powerful moment."
Some students brandished signs that read "Black lives matter" and "Defund the police."
After stops at the Paul Robeson plaza and Old Queens, the crowd gathered in The Yard outside Sojourn Truth Apartments.
While the protest had been loud and spirited as it moved through the streets, there was an 8-minute 46-second moment of silence that brought many to tears.
As the crowd huddled, Floyd's pleas to be let up were synchronized to the moment of silence.
Many students said this brought home just how long Floyd was pinned to the ground under the knee of white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
"It was so long and drawn out that you could see how unjustifiable it was," said Danyel Kenis, a junior. "People were crying, it was so powerful."
Sunday's march was like the two others in New Brunswick that were marked by passion and peace. Protests have turned violent, if not sometimes deadly, at protests in dozens of cities across the country.
Sunday's march, many said, was marked by racial diversity and a youthful spirit.
"Exciting, empowering, just positively," said Arielle Dublin, Student Body Vice President.