Following the murder of George Floyd, an innocent 46-year-old African American man accused of using a counterfeit twenty dollar bill, America was left in a state of outrage and indignation. Urban students Max Miller, Hadley Griffin Schmidt, Kol Bassuk and Quentin Bone decided they would not accept further passiveness, and pledged to respond to Floyd’s killing by taking matters into their own hands and doing all they could to help battle systematic racism in the United States.
“After I heard about [George Floyd’s Death], I was unsurprised, but really really frustrated. We really wanted to get involved, because we felt like we had the ability to use our voices,” said Max Miller ‘22. .
The four Urban juniors elected to raise money by running a weekly race of 8.46 miles, thus the name of their organization. “We wanted to do something that was specific and that honored [George Floyd’s] memory,” said Hadley Griffin-Schmidt ‘22. Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8.46 minutes. As Griffin-Schmidt explained, the 8.46 mile race allowed the students to move forward with concrete action, while still reflecting on the killings of the victim/s of police brutality.
The students enacted what they called “virtual races” in which they offered a 10 dollar sign up fee to participate in the race. All proceeds went towards their nonprofit partner Fair 4 Fight: an organization dedicated to protecting true democratic elections. Founded by Stacie Abrams, the Georgia based company uses its donations to implement voter protection systems for minority voters across the United States. The four students determined that Fair 4 Fight perfectly aligned with their values and goals; it was a perfect match for what they were trying to achieve.
“As opposed to tackling some of the larger organizations that fight for justice overall, we thought it could be interesting to approach one sector, which for us was voting equality,” Kol Bassuk ‘22 explained.
However, in the future, the students plan to become their own organization, managing all of their profits independently.
“We were thinking of disbanding with Fair Fight because we don’t really know where the money’s going,” Miller said. “So we want to start our own thing where we have control over where we put the money.” Although Miller ensured that they do have some idea of what is happening with their profits, managing their money by hand would allow for complete oversight, as well as allowing the students to orchestrate change on a more local basis.
Miller, Bone Bassuk, and Griffin Schmidt hope that their fight for equal voter registration and racial equality inspires other students to get involved with the BLM movement, or any pressing social justice issues they are passionate about.
“As much as we’d like to see people come to our organization, we want them to take the ideas and what we’ve done and reciprocate their own platform, and maybe try to tackle a new sector,” Bassuk said. “If we have four hundred students trying their best to make change in the Bay Area, that goes a long way.”