Inspiration is an interesting thing. It can cause people to do things they did not think possible. It can change the course of our lives, or it can create bonds between people that are extremely close or never met before. To inspire someone is to have one of the greatest impacts on their life. It means that you are the reason someone has made a decision, and with that comes much responsibility. In history, we have seen countless examples of inspiring leaders who have rallied people together for worthy causes, and equally as many who have inspired others to commit horrible acts. In our lives, we have said it many times before to family members or friends—you inspire me, you are my inspiration. What these people all have in common—whether it is your little sister, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or a political leader of millions—is that they have the ability to change other lives through inspiration. I have been inspired countless times—by the students I work with who pour hours into community service projects, for my little sister who has fought a number of health issues from an early age, and from civil rights leaders around the world I have read about in class. One of my greatest inspirations, however, is a community of friends, family and strangers who came together during a time of need—the Pace University community in October of 2010 when Danroy “DJ” Henry was shot by a Mount Pleasant Police Officer on the night of Homecoming, a time of year that should be remembered as positive and jubilant.
If you are not aware of the details for DJ Henry’s death, feel free to research it through a simple Google search. You will see the facts of the case, which are still being sifted through in the court system, and come up with a verdict of your own—I surely have my opinions, and have made them clear in letters to editors as well as elected officials. What is undeniable, however, is the extent to which the Pace University community rallied together to support one another. This “community” was not just DJ’s friends, Pace students, or even just staff/faculty/students of the university. The community grew to an expansive group, including those of us who had not been friends with DJ, but knew him as a smiling face in the cafeteria or a skilled athlete on the field; it included community members that mourned alongside us, trying to understand how difficult a situation we were in. This community included those who heard DJ’s name in a Jay-Z song, retweeted a post calling for justice, or donated their money to ensure that DJ’s legacy continues. This sense of community inspired me. It inspired me to be an advocate for those without a voice. It inspired me to stay as strong as DJ’s closest friends and family did throughout this ordeal. And it still inspires me to remember that we must actively root out injustice for all, not just those injustices that directly affect ourselves.
Inspiration is an interesting thing. It is intangible; it is powerful; it is real. Go out and inspire someone today. We can all be heroes.