“I decided that I wanted to do something that would bring UMBC students to Baltimore. A lot of times, Baltimore is not ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ but rather, it tends to be ‘in sight, out of mind.’”
Emily Eaglin, senior visual arts major, can be found across campus working in UMBC’s Video Cage, working as a teaching assistant for a session of Studies in Feminist Activism and collaborating with various student organizations to start a freedom school at UMBC (similar to the Freedom School at Towson University).
In addition to these roles, Eaglin is active in UMBC’s People United, an informal student organization that is devoted to discussion and direct action relating to anti-oppressive practice. Every other Wednesday, Eaglin puts her direct action skills to use, as she organizes a carpool to West Wednesday, a demonstration against police brutality.
What started as a semester long project for GWST 200: Studies in Feminist Activism soon turned into a multi-semester venture that has done nothing but grow during the past two years. Inspired by the atmosphere of apathy that Eaglin perceived on campus, she decided that West Wednesday was the perfect chance to connect students to issues still prevalent in Baltimore, regardless of the lackluster media coverage.
“My role is transporting students to West Wednesdays and introducing them to Tawanda [Jones]. It gives students the chance to network with activists throughout the city,” Eaglin said.
“I went to numerous community discussions, and I always saw Tawanda [Jones] there promoting West Wednesdays,” Eaglin said. Through these community discussions Eaglin and Jones connected with one another, and now, Eaglin connects UMBC’s campus to Baltimore.
Jones is a working mother and the sister of Tyrone West, the man behind the ‘West’ in ‘West Wednesdays.’ After West died in police custody, Jones organized the West Wednesday series to show her fight for her brother’s justice. Facing inaction in the Justice and Police Departments, Jones has become a role model to many in the pursuit of justice and truth.
“Tawanda [Jones] is an incredible person, and her dedication to bringing justice to her brother is inspiring, especially as a young activist,” Eaglin said.
“I saw her passion and dedication and thought ‘if Tawanda can balance a full-time job and family obligations and attend these demonstrations weekly, the least I can do is take students down every other week,” Eaglin said.
Despite the often negative portrayals of demonstrations in Baltimore, West Wednesday prospers as a nonviolent platform for empowerment and accountability.
“West Wednesdays are important because it shows everybody that we’re not forgetting about Tyrone. We’re not forgetting about Freddie. We’re not forgetting about all our brothers and sisters that we have lost. We’re going to stand in solidarity until justice is served,” Eaglin said.
West Wednesdays are free. West Wednesdays are safe. West Wedenesdays are for everyone on the activism scale. Whether you are just starting your journey into activism or are a veteran, Eaglin encourages all to come up and participate.
Those who are interested in this opportunity are encouraged to join UMBC’s West Wednesday Carpool group on Facebook.