SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – The Syracuse University campus was eerily quiet as classes transitioned online for the rest of the semester on Nov. 13. But just one year ago today, the campus was bustling. Students weren’t standing six feet apart; they were arm-in-arm.
Students made their way to the Barnes Center to protest a slew of racist incidents that had occurred on campus. They staged a sit-in where chants for change echoed through the halls, and the NotAgainSU movement was born.
Brycen Greco was one of the many students calling for change at the university.
“The campus and a lot of my friends here were really tired of everything going on,” he said. “We were like ‘We’re tired of this. We want something to change. We want the school to take responsibility.”
Greco was a sophomore when the NotAgainSU protests began, but he was no stranger to fighting for his rights. He had been a social rights activist since he was in high school.
In a speech to his high school community, he said he was, “ a concerned youth…Not when it comes to my grades…when it comes to social justice.”
Greco’s friends said he often has conversations about the social injustice present in the United States, especially in the city he now calls home.
Syracuse, New York is one of the top 10 worst U.S. cities for Black Americans according to a USA Today study. Nearly 40% of black residents live below the poverty line, and racial inequality is rampant in the streets.
“The school is like an ivory tower compared to the rest of the city,” Greco said. “It sits at the top of the hill. And, this is just the definition of money and power looking down over the rest of the city,.”
It is not only SU students and NotAgainSU protesters calling for a change in the way society treats Black Americans. Over the summer, Syracuse residents, young and old, joined the fight against social injustice. They took part in the national Black Lives Matter movement. Over 2,000 community members marched to City Hall where they protested police brutality and the death of George Floyd.
One man shouted over a megaphone about why he thought it was important to see people of all ages and backgrounds out fighting for their rights.
“It’s about changing the infrastructure of stuff and you young people outside here now, you’ve got to start using your votes collectively,” he said.
Greco agreed that when people come together and create a dialogue, like those in the NotAgainSU movement and the Black Lives Matter movement have, they will help make lasting changes in our schools, our communities, and our nation.
“It’s a systematic thing, but this is a people thing,” Greco said. “If the system is broken, we can fix the system, but if people don’t agree…well then, fixing the system won’t do anything.”