For Hana Hawthorne, activism begins in your local community

Inspired after attending a protest in Washington, D.C., this Elon student is now leading anti-racism protests in her Maryland hometown.

Hana Hawthorne ’23 had never planned a protest before, but that wasn’t going to stop her from taking action to create a series of rallies in her hometown of Crofton, Maryland, to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I protested in D.C., but realized that there wasn’t much happening in my own community,” Hawthorne shared.  “So I thought about it, created a flyer in literally five minutes, and hung it up around my neighborhood. I was expecting maybe 50 people to show up, and 400 came to the first protest I organized on June 2.”

Hawthorne, who was raised Jewish and identifies as black, had always been passionate about activism and social justice, but had not considered being an organizer until she attended a protest in Washington, D.C.

“Going to protests motivates people to do more, to take action,” Hawthorne said, “Being there is something else, it’s different and empowering and amazing, and it made me realize how important it was to act locally.”

Protest in Crofton, MD

From organizing her first protest on June 2 to planning a second, and then an even more successful one on June 10 that brought out 600 people, Hawthorne has hit the ground running, and has inspired her fellow Crofton natives to show up in support of black lives and racial justice.

Now Hawthorne is planning an event to mark Juneteenth, talking to county executives in her area, and participating in calls with organized rights groups. She also wants to bring her activism back to Elon’s campus, where she is active in the CREDE and the Black Student Union, and hopes to start attending Hillel programs.

Hawthorne has been gratified by the response in her community supporting her protests, and wants to not only affect change in the world, but also to broadcast a positive message of pride.

“There is so much terribleness in the world, but we also should celebrate blackness and be proud,” she explained.

And as for her peers at Elon and beyond, Hawthorne wants them to join her and stand up for what is right. “It’s important for everybody to educate themselves, to read articles about race issues, and for white people, to learn about white privilege and how they can use it,” she said. “And if they are considering attending a protest, do so, because it’s truly empowering.”