Dear DeRay: A Letter to the Activist that Changed our Lives


Dear DeRay Mckesson,

Welcome to The Pennsylvania State University, a community full of many students interested in tackling and combating issues of race and social justice. Your courageous work, acts of resistance against injustice, and media presence have greatly inspired the Underground staff and are a great part of the reason that our organization exists today.

Last year, Penn State held a series of die-ins in protest of the unjust murder of Michael Brown. Joined by faculty and staff, we crowded the floors of our student center, library, and other monumental locations on campus in declaration of Black lives and against discrimination. Backlash from alumni and students alike flooded media streams with hateful messages and incorrect assumptions.

As racial tension unfolded across campus, we saw an immense need for an outlet devoted to sharing diverse voices and experiences. As we searched for strategies to achieve this, we found ourselves religiously discussing your involvement in Ferguson and Baltimore as sources of inspiration.

Accompanied with a “Black in America” presentation by Soledad O’Brien and other social justice warriors, we solidified the Underground, an online community for inspiration, creation, and culture amongst underrepresented students at Penn State. Though we don’t specifically focus on protests, we promote advocacy and insist on turning apathy into action. We greatly admire your continuous strive to change perception in various outlets. You have motivated us to establish greater initiative and work toward established goals.

On behalf of the Underground, thank you for being an inspiration and continuing to promote activism. As you continue to change the narrative in modern media we strive to do the same within the Penn State community. We are extremely excited to welcome you to our campus, ready to hear more about your experiences, and hope to work together in the continual strive for equality. We will win.


Candice Crutchfield
Co-Founder of The Underground

P.S. Your Blue Patagonia vest is everything!

About Candice Crutchfield (20 Articles)
Candice is an occasionally stressed out college student and aspiring lawyer from northern Virginia. The African-American student-turned-social-justice-advocate can be found reading about civil rights issues, ranting about millennial life, and starting Twitter conversations with Soledad O’Brien. After being many people’s only black friend, she gained an interest in establishing diverse and accepting communities. A media junkie of sorts, she can also be found writing for Blavity, binge watching TV shows, and taking endless pictures of food for her Instagram account. Email her:

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