Photo by Matt Hembree (C’20)
By Richard Pryor III
On the morning of October 22, Sewanee students and faculty woke up to see an email from the Sewanee Police Department, warning them about traffic during that afternoon on 41-A due to a “Trump Train,” a line of cars decked out in Trump regalia headed from Spencer through Tracy City, Monteagle, and Sewanee and then to Winchester. As soon as she saw it, Lauren Newman (C’18) organized a protest against the Train and Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.
As a Posse Scholar, Newman organized the demonstration with students from a variety of organizations across campus, including the Community Engagement House, the Bairnwick Women’s Center (The Wick), Hispanic Organization for Latino Awareness, African American Alliance, and Gamma Sigma Phi into protesting the Trump Train on the corner of University and 41-A. However, students who arrived did not participate as organization leaders, instead acting on behalf of their independent interests and using their own resources to contest the Trump Train.
Newman said she organized the protest because “it needs to be said that people are not in support of Trump’s hurtful and harmful speech.”
The Trump Train was partially organized by Amir Kamrani (C’18), the co-chairman of the Trump Campaign for Franklin County, who said in a prepared statement, “The Trump Train was an event organized to show support for Donald Trump for President. Several trains were originating and passing through some 12 counties in Tennessee… There were around 90 cars which participated in the train at one point or another. Dozens of stops and gatherings were along the way, with hundreds of people waving flags and showing support. The final stop and gathering was in Winchester. Several Tennessee conservative and Republican leaders, as well as some elected officials, joined us.”
Holding anti-Trump and Black Lives Matter signs, people joined at the corner to protest and chant, with a popular chant being “Stop Trump’s hate, America’s already great.” Cameron Mason (C’18), the president of Sewanee’s College Democrats, who participated in the protest, said, “I’m glad to have seen so many of my peers, and that they find Trump’s demeaning rhetoric unacceptable for the office of President–as many Americans do.”
The protest included students from both the college and the School of Theology. “I am continually inspired by our students who confront the wrong that is in the world with power and love,” said Forbes Mann (C’10) (T’19). In total, there were around 60 people protesting the Trump Train and around 15 individuals in the Train itself.
The College Republicans also responded to Trump’s recent activity. In a meeting on October 23, the College Republicans decided by what President Pierre DuBois (C’17) referred to as “an overwhelming majority” not to endorse Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. DuBois said in a statement to The Purple that “There are members of our group who stil support him, but we as a group overall believe he is not fit to hold the office of the President of the United States. It is our belief that the American people have been given two less-than-desireable options and we do not feel either is fit to be President.”
Over the last few weeks, Donald Trump has made what major political commentators have noted are many missteps, including calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman,” calling illegal immigrants from Mexico “bad hombres,” and having difficulty responding to a leaked tape revealing his disrespectful treatment of women. These events have popped the “Sewanee bubble” and brought the presidential race to the forefront of thoughts in Sewanee.
CORRECTION (10/25/16): In the original publication of this article, the reporter stated, “As a Posse Scholar, Newman organized the rally with the Community Engagement House, the Bairnwick Women’s Center (The Wick), Hispanic Organization for Latino Awareness, African American Alliance, and Gamma Sigma Phi into protesting the Trump Train on the corner of University and 41-A.”
The organizations involved did not use their funding or resources in an official capacity for the demonstration.