Among the many inspirations for the Amherst Uprising, which took place five years ago in November, you must include Double Dutch.
This creative, complex way of jumping rope is “very near and dear to a lot of Black women’s hearts,” said Katyana Dandridge ’18 in the online event “Alumni Reflections on the Fifth Anniversary of Amherst Uprising.” In 2015 Dandridge and Lerato Teffo ’18 were taking a course in which Aneeka Henderson, assistant professor of sexuality, women’s and gender studies, focused on Black women and their methods of transgression.
“It was not just learning how to Double Dutch,” said Dandridge of one class assignment. “We had to learn how to do it in public and in different, unexpected places so that we would become spectacles and transgress a space.” Dandridge, Teffo and Sanyu Takirambudde ’18 transfigured the idea of transgression into a November 2015 show of support, at Frost Library, for students of color protesting their marginalization at the University of Missouri, Yale and other institutions. They were also inspired by Black Lives Matter events put on by Amherst’s Black Student Union and Multicultural Resource Center.
“We thought it’ll probably be 20 people max at Frost,” Dandridge recalled. “And then we showed and there were dozens of students. We were taken aback by the amount of support that people were showing, that they’d sit with us and show that Black students were not in this alone.”
Dandridge, now director of equity, programs and operations at ArtUp in Memphis (whose founder and CEO is Linda Steele ’85), spoke at the anniversary event with Amir Hall ’17, Christine Croasdaile ’17, Andrew Smith ’18 and moderator Lola Fadulu ’17. Isabella Edo ’21, a double major in Black studies and law, jurisprudence and social thought, spoke about the Uprising’s impact on current students. President Biddy Martin reflected on how it “has changed virtually every domain at the College.”
Fadulu, a Washington Post reporter, spoke to Croasdaile, who is getting her J.D. and MBA at Howard University: “Christine, I know that for a lot of students, the moment that you spoke up is what transformed this into the Amherst Uprising.” The others nodded in agreement.
Croasdaile recalled: “Christin Washington, who’s also class of ’17, saw me shaking in my seat and she’s like, ‘What is going on, Christine?’ And I said, ‘I can’t let this moment pass. How can we say that we’re sitting in solidarity, but we’re not taking the mirror and looking back at ourselves?’ And she was like, ‘So get up and say it.’”