by Fallon Godwin-Butler
On Sunday, April 22nd, Mount Saint Mary College and the Jewish Community Center (JCC) hosted a remembrance of the Jewish Holocaust for their twelfth year of collaboration. This ceremony not only remembered victims of the atrocity that took place from 1933-1945, but it also commemorated 21st century genocide victims. Featured, was Keynote Speaker Jacqueline Murekatete, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
The ceremony began with prayers and songs. As each prayer or speech was recited, six individual candles were lit in remembrance of the six million deceased Jews. Professor of Religious Studies, Sister Margaret Murphy, said a quote from a young man from Ravensbruck Concentration Camp: “ …and every day no matter how bitter it may be, I will only say, I will be sad tomorrow, not today, not today…”
The ceremony also presented the movie, The Last Survivor. The movie strung together the commonalities of all survivors that have witnessed genocide in the Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, and the Congo.
Also, Jacqueline Murekatete told her story–a story of pain, suffering, hope, and instruction. Murekatete lost everything, and she now has a mission not only in remembrance of her family, but a mission to educate for a better tomorrow. She endeavors to bring hope through education about hate, intolerance, and racism. Murekatete said, “We all have a stake to fight racism, hate, and anti-Semitism.”
Murekatete survived the hundred-day genocide that began on April 6, 1994 in Rwanda. This was a well-planned Hutu attack on the Tutsi population. Her childhood was full of hope instilled from her parents despite the radio repeating, “Tutsi’s are cockroaches, Tutsi’s are snakes, Tutsi’s deserve to die.”
Murekatete concluded by saying, “Genocide can happen anywhere given the right conditions. Genocide is the greatest crime, the greatest injustice.” Today, she has graduated from New York University with a degree in Political Science, and is now attending law school. She is the founder and director of Miracle Corners of the World (MCW) Jacqueline’s Human Rights Corner. Their motto is “local change through global exchange.” As stated on her website, mcwglobal.org, “Our mission is to empower youth to become positive agents of change in their communities.”