Ella’s Experience on the Albany Lobbying Trip

the Albany Lobbying Trip: group photo of Friends Seminary & the Kalief Browder Foundation

On April 30th at 7am, a group of 30 students from Friends Seminary as well as members from the Kalief Browder Foundation drove up to Albany to lobby for the H.A.L.T Solitary Confinement Act to be pushed onto the floor¬†immediately. After we arrived, we were divided up into groups of 3 and given schedules/room numbers of different senators and representatives that we were booked to have a 5-10 minute meeting with. Meeting with politicians one on one, not just watching a video through a screen or reading some quotes, was an immensely valuable experience. I was able to see how easy it was to get wrapped up in the eloquence of one’s words and realize 10 minutes later at the end of the meeting that they had not managed to even broach the one question we had asked. It was frustrating but a kind of frustration that pushed to only be more direct, emphatic,¬†knowledgable of the facts and ensure that we got the answer that we wanted next: for these senators and represtatnive to vote YES when H.A.L.T. was placed on the floor. The other memorable part of our trip was the replica of a solitary cell. Once inside, the room seems to drop 10 degrees. The greys on the wall became unsettling, the soundtrack of crying, insufferable mumbling, and an unbreakably loud silence is overwhelming. Once the door closes and you are left alone, arguments of money, budgeting, and priorities are drowned out by the immediate sense of despair and isolation that covers every inch of the room. The Albany Lobbying trip is an experience that taught me more than any political class could ever as well as instilled in me an understanding about the utmost necessity of fighting for those who do not have a voice in a world that works to only silence them further.

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