Chronicling Protests in Geneva
WITH KATHY COLLINS '09
As a social worker at Geneva Middle and High School who also operates a freelance photography business, Kathy Collins ’09 went to her first Black Lives Matter rally in Geneva because of her connection with so many of her students and families of color in the school district. She has since chronicled more than six rallies.
“I wanted to supports the kids. I'm very encouraged by their efforts to try to have a conversation between the police and the community, as difficult as it appears to be,” says Collins, who graduated cum laude in English and earned minors in lesbian, gay and bisexual studies and peer education and human relations. She also holds her MSW from the University at Buffalo, 2014.
Collins has been overwhelmed with community turnout. She recalled the evening march when she took photos from her car. “It was such a large march and was really spectacular to be involved with. It was so cool to drive for five miles and see these little kids shouting out the windows of their cars: ‘I matter! Black lives matter!’”
She spoke at one rally about the need for community mental health support, working with police as a mental health professional and the trauma that comes with systemic and generational racism. “I think that beyond anything, the organizers have taught me how to keep going even when your own existence is threatened,” she says. “They have focused on educating the community as opposed to dividing it and have welcomed all viewpoints. They have made it abundantly clear that they do not tolerate violence and have made sure that these events, all of them, have remained peaceful and free of hateful language.”