Of all the lectures this semester, Professor Marcus Perez’s final lecture “On Being a Revolutionary” was, for me, the most riveting. I was captivated by his three main points: Why be a revolutionary? What is it like? How are revolutions organized? As Professor Perez noted, revolutions are crucial and nebulous. They are complicated and messy, hard to define, and altogether difficult to experience and notice during real time. Growing up, I always romanticized the 60s and the 70s. I was jealous of my Aunt and Uncle, who attended Woodstock and marched on Washington. They rallied and protested and were fierce activists. They, it seemed to me, were a part of the revolution. Last year, however, amidst heated discussions and arguments about Black Lives Matter, while real people were dying, and real change seemed distance but necessary, I remember talking to my friends about how we were in the middle of it. Or at least the beginning of it. And it wasn’t fun and exhilarating and cool like I imagined the 60s and 70s being. It is painful and sad and heartbreaking and lonely. Now more than ever, questions of revolutions are being asked. Professor Perez talked about how, in social movement theory, there must be an action that sparks and motivates a revolution (at least under some theories). It feels, currently, as if the election of Trump is the push to mobilize that we needed. The pain and rage that is surging through America right now seems to be the stuff of revolutions. It is difficult, however, to trust the outcomes. As Professor Perez taught, there is a reason revolutionaries are thought to be so brave and odd and atypical. They are willing to risk it all for something that may not happen at all. It is a risk with, most likely, no reward. And yet. And yet they do it. They rise up and speak out for what they believe is right. Personally, I find it curious that revolutionaries are questioned so immensely. Of course they exist! Of course they mobilize! How can they not? How can you be complicit in situations of injustice? During moments like we live in currently, I personally cannot imagine staying put and accepting our fate.
Last year, I began to mobilize with my friends on campus. As first years, we are all lost and confused and unsure how anything worked at all. We had liminal (if not altogether not-existence) social movement theory knowledge, but we pursued a revolution anyway. While little action came of it externally, there was great change in us. Amidst times of great violence on campus, we were able to heal. We were able to feel powerful, to feel the power of being a student and having a voice and demanding justice and seeking peace. Ultimately, I ended Professor Perez’s lecture with questions and concerns and list after list of books and theorists to research later. This, to me, is the foundation of my revolution. Post-election, I am rooting my revolution in knowledge. I am arming myself with arguments and questions and humility and curiosity. It is what I am hear to do, at Colby. To learn and to change.