Grassroots Anti-Racism Activism in Gettysburg

By Kyle Hammerness, Features Editor

The American Anti-Racism Alliance is a grassroots collection of people from the Gettysburg College community. In September 2020, a group of Gettysburg College students and employees participated in an anti-racism activation experience titled, A Long Talk about the Uncomfortable Truth (“A Long Talk”). When participants in the program wanted to continue this anti-racist work, Kyle Williams, the creator of “A Long Talk” and a Gettysburg College parent, suggested American Anti-Racism Alliance as a name for the organization that they were building. The Anti-Racism Alliance is not affiliated with any national organization. Additionally, the Anti-Racism Alliance is not affiliated with Gettysburg College in any official capacity. It is a strictly grassroots group of community members who want to make a difference both on campus and in the Gettysburg community. 

Allison Singley, former executive director of Parent Relations, described the goal of the Anti-Racism Alliance, saying, “We want to give people an opportunity to share and to talk; we also want to have a focus on activism. I want [Gettysburg College] to be known as a place that advances and maintains a culture of anti-racism. It’s not enough to just say, ‘Well, I’m not racist.’ In today’s world you have to be anti-racist.”

When asked about what advancing a culture anti-racism means to her, Singley said, “You actively take a position of anti-racism, which means you speak up when you see racist behaviors and policies. 

Although they do not have a strict schedule during their meetups, the group will have an educational lesson or practice scenarios combatting racism in their daily lives. They also allot time for discussions and make sure to touch on activism too. 

Singley said, “We always have a loose structure when people come to the meetups. We read the room and see what happens.” 

Jacqueline Wilkins, an employee of the facilities staff, said, “It’s a relief to finally use my voice to create a possible change where it may help others take a step forward without the crucibles of fear.”

Faculty members from many different departments have participated in the Anti-Racism Alliance meet-up, including Bret Crawford, the Chairperson of the physics department. Crawford, in collaboration with his colleagues, wanted to spread inclusivity in the physics department so they decided to give students a way to voice any issues that they may have. 

Crawford said, “We printed our diversity statement on cards throughout the building with some text letting students know they can contact us through an anonymous web form accessed through a web address or QR code. Students are encouraged to talk to one of us directly if they feel comfortable doing so, but this web form gives them an anonymous option as well.” 

Because of his commitment to inclusivity and anti-racism, Crawford sees tremendous value in the work of the Anti-Racism Alliance. Crawford said, “I have found [the Anti-Racism Alliance] meetings helpful as a way for me to regularly re-engage with anti-racism and related issues, hear from others, and generate ideas for bringing more inclusion back to our workspaces.”

At their meetup in January, the Anti-Racism Alliance discussed pushing the college to revise its academic calendar so that the beginning of the spring semester does not fall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Singley explained the reasoning behind this stating, “Many colleges and universities have revised their calendars to accommodate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It builds a culture of inclusivity and awareness that shows a commitment to anti-racism.” 

The American Anti-Racism Alliance is hopeful that they can be a force for change on campus and the wider Gettysburg community. 

Ann Wofford, who works in the Eisenhower Institute and Public Policy Department, discussed what she hopes to do through this group by saying, “I’m a resident of the borough, and I think what happens at the college trickles down throughout the borough and hopefully, it’s the ripple effect all the way around. My goal is that this is a small part of a much bigger picture.”

This article originally appeared on page 17 of the February 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

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Author: Kyle Hammerness

Kyle Hammerness ’23 is the Features Editor and Content Manager for The Gettysburgian. Kyle is from San Diego, California and is studying political science with a double minor in history and French. Outside of The Gettysburgian, he works as a tour guide and info presenter in the Gettysburg College Admissions Office. Additionally, he is a member of the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and has served as both their social chair and their postulant educator.

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1 Comment

  1. If this organization is not affiliated with Gettysburg College, why is this article in the Gettysburgian?

    I am a veteran. You you please publish some news about the local American Legion?

    Thanks you.

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