DJ Henry’s 10th anniversary from the perspective of a Black freshman at Pace

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CBS News 1

“DJ Henry’s death will always serve as a constant reminder of what we as students of the Pace community have left to achieve.”

Krissy Scott, Contributing Writer

I remember the night I learned of DJ Henry’s death. 

My high school career had officially ended, and I looked to the future with nothing but restlessness and expectation. I was anticipating an experience that lived up to all my expectations; and I spent a lot of time in front of the calendar, crossing off dates that stood in between me and my first day of class. Long before I could indulge in the first year of my college career, I was greeted with the unexpected, and it weighed heavily on my mind and heart until the day the fall semester began.

I was devastated. It was devastation I couldn’t comprehend because it fell so close to my heart, yet remained so far from understanding. Everywhere I turned, the facts looked me square in the face. The news was unnerving.

I spent the rest of the summer trying to reconcile with what unfolded ten years ago, and it was quite possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I could cope with failure, discontent, and deception. They’re unpleasant, yes, but understandable. But there is little reconciling to do when it comes to the murder of a young black man in the 21st century in a nation deemed to be a beacon of inclusivity and integrity.

What does it truly mean to want justice to prevail? To what standard can you pursue that form of justice? When you’re tasked with such duty without any foreseeable end, you will feel helpless without a clear sense of direction. The real place to start is with yourself and your community.

I chose to look within our school community, and reach out to an individual fulfilling their moral duty to incorporate diversity and inclusivity on the Pleasantville campus. One of those people is Ashley DeSalvo, Unity and Social Justice Ambassador.

“Ever since the summer passed there’s been a spirit of advocacy here at Pace and Pleasantville” DeSalvo mentions in regards to the recent killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

“I want Pace students to remember that DJ Henry was a student just like us. He probably ate at Kessel and went to townhouse parties,” says Desalvo.

The senior highlighted what’s especially unique to the Pace community. The spirit of advocacy, which only continues to become stronger.

“What’s unique about our school community is our committee doesn’t go out and ask people to join. They come to us wanting to join,” explained Desalvo

The fact of the matter is many of us have been searching for this nation’s integrity for months.

Since the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor occurring over the summer during the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been rummaging for an inkling of a promise that this nation still holds on to its integrity, no matter how grim the circumstance may be.

It does exist, within our school community, but has become more scarce rather than abundant elsewhere.

DJ Henry’s death will always serve as a constant reminder of what we as students of the Pace community have left to achieve. As a generation, we’ve risen above the racial prejudice and social discrimination that once plagued American culture, and have accomplished so much since then.

However, our job is more urgent now than ever.

As we arrive at DJ Henry’s 10th anniversary, we will continue to stand strong in the belief of the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement and its purpose. We will continue to look not to each other with eyes of exclusivity, but look within at our shortcomings, and make adjustments that fall in line with humanity’s call for equality.

Once we all confront the truth, only then will we be exposed to a form of understanding that is quite simple: we are all one people tasked with the moral duty to extend the hands of unity in times of hardship. Should we dare to withdraw them, we fail to hold on to the exact thing that ever bonded us in the first place: our inclusivity and integrity.