‘You make us proud.’ Astronaut, musicians among 700 Troy alumni to sign letter supporting protesters

Readers’ reaction to Supreme Court decision on gay workplace discrimination

Credit: Allison Zelnick

Credit: Allison Zelnick

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: Nearly 700 Troy High School graduates — classes of 1954 to 2020 — signed a letter written by Allison Zelnick, a 2010 Troy High School graduate who now lives in Mahwah, N.J., and others in support of Black Lives Matter protesters in Troy. 

Notable signers confirmed by Zelnick’s group include NASA astronaut Nancy Currie-Gregg and musicians Micah Carli of Hawthorne Heights and Justin Aufdemkampe of Miss May I. 

Here are excerpts from the letter, which calls for action from city officials, community leaders and school administrators:

“We acknowledge that Troy is a rural and predominantly white town where many residents have had limited exposure and limited education around the experiences of black Americans, past and present. Troy is only 4.6 percent African American, according to the 2018 ACS. But while Troy’s whiteness is a fact, it is not an excuse. We want to be proud of our hometown, which is why we are encouraging it to rise to the moment.

The black, indigenous and people of color alumni among us have noted that growing up in Troy meant learning to either accept or ignore the hate and covert racism in our hometown, and the recent community response to the black lives matter protest was a disappointing reminder of the racism that still exists in Troy today.

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Troy protesters — you have taken steps to make the change we never did. You put this knowledge into action and challenged us to demand more of ourselves. You asked us to stand against hate and you marched in the streets to tell our community that black lives matter. You rallied against white supremacy and the systemic racial injustices across this country, and instead of the community praising you for supporting life and equality, you were met with hateful comments online, questioning your intelligence and even threatening your life.

We are deeply saddened by the way you were treated. We are sad that there is so much knowledge — literally at our fingertips — on how white America has terrorized black people and systematically denied them equal opportunity, yet it seems some in our community do not understand or refuse to recognize the full extent of this history and how racism tragically continues today, even in Troy.

In light of the opposition you faced, we think it’s important to let you know that we unequivocally support you. You have courageously made the effort to let your education shine beyond the classroom and into the community where it belongs, and we are proud of you. We commend you for rallying against injustice and inequality and thank you for pushing our community to condemn racism in all its forms.

>> MORE: Data shows inequities span cradle to grave for local black residents

We praise you for standing up for black lives, because all lives can’t matter until black lives matter. We see you, and we stand with you. Keep marching. You make us proud.

While the recent protest was a start, it cannot end there.

Credit: Allison Zelnick

Credit: Allison Zelnick

This is a time to take serious moral inventory and a time to take action. We are calling on our city officials, community leaders, and school administrators to show the citizens of Troy and Troy alumni what they will do to actually make change for the BIPOC in our hometown. The Black Lives Matter coordinators have initiated conversation with our school administrators and safety officials, which we fully stand behind. We need everyone's help to make Troy a better place for all of us."


The U.S. Supreme Court decided by a 6-3 vote Monday that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, includes bias against LGBT workers.

>> RELATED: Justices rule LGBT people protected from job discrimination

Sampling of Facebook reactions from our readers:

Stephen Wilson — "The fact they were still ruling on basic human rights, gay rights and lynching laws…kinda sad."

Donnie Goodson — "This wasn't already a thing? Wow."

Monica Neiderman — "I'm glad. But we have a lot more work to do to end privilege and create a more just and equitable country for all."

Jasmine Nicole Miller — "It's 2020, this should be a given."

Tuesday Feltz — Slightly relieved.

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