Student activism has a long legacy of forging social change across the Americas. Like many other noted episodes in this history of activism, college students in Ayotzinapa’s Normal School recently traveled to Chilpancigo, Mexico—capital of the Mexican state of Guerrero—to peacefully protest the increasing university fees and imposed governmental reforms. Forty-three college students from Ayotzinapa’s Normal School formed part of a larger national campaign that sought to commemorate the many college students who were killed by Mexican national forces in 1968. Ironically, rather than having their protests heard, local and state authorities responded with violence, military retaliation, and blatant excessive force. Not only did the local government trample their rights to protest but they also violated their human rights, resulting in the immediate death of six and the disappearance of forty-three (who were all recently confirmed deceased).
The retaliation from the Mexican government sent a message that social activism and mobilization will not be tolerated. As educators, we have an obligation to speak out against injustices where student rights are being violated in such an inhumane manner. We are all global citizens and cannot pretend to ignore the devastation that our fellow students have endured. We should not sit idly when these students acted courageously in exercising their right to peacefully protest and have their voices heard. These young men and women were bravely speaking out against injustice, standing up for a better future for their respective communities, and exercising their right to peacefully assemble. Their deaths should not have a chilling effect on those young and old among us who demand greater accountability from our public officials and our respective governments.
May their souls rest in peace, and may their spirit of social activism live on as a solemn reminder and a renewed legacy to future generations of college student activists.
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