Monday marked the kickoff of the College of Social Work’s Social Justice Week, and the Muslim Student Association’s Islamic Awareness Week. To get things started, the two groups wanted to send a message to campus: a 60-foot long spray painted stencil of the phrase “Unlearn Fear+Hate” on the Rose Street walkway.
The phrase is an homage to a popular poem, “Love Letter to the World,” by UK professor and renowned poet Frank X Walker.
Transylvania University professors and artists Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova launched the “Unlearn Fear+Hate” project in August 2016, and have since installed the message throughout Lexington with parishioners at First Presbyterian Church, and students at Transylvania, the STEAM Academy and Dunbar High School.
“It’s an artwork that basically tries to humanize us to each other by encouraging us to think about ways in which we might be fearful of others or prejudiced against them,” Todorova said.
The project fit perfectly with the educational mission of Islamic Awareness Week, according to Muslim Student Association Outreach Chair Hoda Shalash.
“Our main focus is to spread awareness of what Islam is, and to break any stereotypes that people have… and the deep beliefs that Muslims hold, which is love and peace,” Shalash said.
Over 30 volunteers and passersby joined together to hold stencils and spray paint the phrase on the path leading to the William T. Young Library.
“A lot of people have gotten to know each other, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing,” Muslim Student Association president Hadeel Abdallah said.
The College of Social Work and the Muslim Student Association will be hosting separate events throughout the week.