‘Walk with Ukraine’ rally draws community members to unite for peace

Baylor senior Camille Watson sheds tears while discussing the effect the Russian attacks have had on her and her Ukrainian and Russian family. Brittany Tankersley | Photo Editor

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

Students, faculty, staff and Waco community members gathered at Fountain Mall on Sunday to walk in support of Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.

Belton senior Kale Kincannon and Magnolia senior Kenadie Wilde decided to organize the “Walk with Ukraine” rally two days before the event after being inspired by rallies held globally.

“Kenadie and I decided to organize this because we had been seeing a lot of rallies and protests around the U.S. and the world, asking for people to stand up for peace in Ukraine and to protect the Ukrainian citizens,” Kincannon said. “We decided that we wanted to go ahead and put on our own here in Waco, because we hadn’t seen anything, and we know we have Ukrainian students here, so we wanted to give them as much support as we could as well as send a voice to those elsewhere.”

At the rally, participants carried images of a QR code linking to the document Kincannon and Wilde created to provide resources to donate to reputable organizations that will support Ukraine.

“They will be going straight to humanitarian aid as well as some military forces in Ukraine to help those in the line of fire that have been affected by the conflict,” Kincannon said.

Ukraine senior Camille Watson has family and friends in both Ukraine and Russia and said she has felt the weight of the conflict heavily.

“Russians all have family in Ukraine; Ukrainians all have family in Russia — that’s the interesting thing about this conflict,” Watson said. “Usually with war, there’s something both countries are fighting over, but in this instance, it’s just the Russian government. No one in Ukraine and no one in Russia wants this. It’s only the administration in Russia that wants this, which gives me hope because there is such strong support globally for Ukraine right now.”

Watson said she tried to stay in constant communication with her family in Kyiv, Ukraine, but lost contact for a few hours as Russia invaded the capital city.

“Tensions in Russia while having family there is nothing new, but then Thursday morning when I saw the articles hit about Kyiv, it really took me out, and I definitely cried a lot,” Watson said. “I immediately tried to contact my family and couldn’t get in touch with them. I didn’t know if they were OK. I couldn’t get in touch with them for about three hours, and then I finally found out they were OK and made it out of Kyiv.”

Wilde, one of the organizers of the rally, spoke to participants about the goal of raising money for Ukrainian donation resources.

“As the Baylor community, I know that thoughts and prayers are kind of our specialty, and I love thoughts and prayers and they do great things, but sometimes you just need money and financial resources, and that’s what Ukraine needs right now,” Wilde said. “I wanted to emphasize today that we’re trying to help support and raise money for Ukraine so that they have enough resources to fight back against the Russian military.”

According to the New York Times, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has agreed to the Ukrainian delegation meeting with the Russian delegation to discuss the possibility of peace. Additionally, some Ukrainians are returning to the country to join the fight against Russia after fleeing from the violence to bordering nations.

Dr. Ivy Hamerly, senior lecturer of political science and director of international relations, joined with Dr. Adrienne Harris, associate professor of Russian, to walk with students in support of Ukraine.

“We’re marching to show support for our friends and neighbors who are Ukrainian,” Hamerly said. “People have internet connection in Ukraine, so they are actually seeing these symbols of solidarity and taking encouragement from it. There’s not a lot we can do to change the situation, but we can at least encourage them.”

“This is all to help facilitate and push people toward resources and information to help,” Harris said. “We’re supporting our Ukrainian students with family ties and our Ukrainian colleagues, and beyond our personal ties to these people, we’re opposing this war on a sovereign country.”

“Share your voice online,” Kincannon said. “If you want to speak out against it, do it. Speak for peace and stand up for peace. If it was happening here, we’d want others to do the same.”