In attempts to grow familiarity and value of Missouri as a state along with the Midwest area, senior Stephen Turban and several RBHS students have declared today, April 30, as “Midwest Pride Day.” After attending an event in Washington D.C. over the summer and meeting kids from all over the country, Turban noticed a lack of confidence in the student population from Midwestern states and decided to act in his personal pride for Missouri and the Midwest.
“At that point I was like ‘how disappointing is that, that there is no day at all specifically made to celebrate the Midwest in any context?’” Turban said. “After that I went up and I … put posters around school and tried to talk to as many people as I could…and from there it kind of ballooned, I would say.”
Looking forward to the celebration day for several weeks now, Turban and the Midwest Pride day organizational committee have been hard at work attending regular meetings and holding fundraisers to raise money for various activities to take place on this sacred day. One of the more well-known is a photo contest in which the winner will receive $500, group member junior Najeebah Hussain said. As far as her personal enjoyment in celebrating Midwest pride, Hussain is looking for an excuse to observe the many things that make Missouri special and unique, she said.
“I used to go to places outside the Midwest and people would ask me where I’m from and when I when I said Missouri, people would say ‘Missouri? What do you do in Missouri? Missouri is so not cool,’” Hussain said, “and I just want people from the Midwest to be able to say that they are proud of being from there and that they like the Midwest.”
Although the state sprouts blooming spring tulips, daffodils and green, budding trees to brag its beauty this time of year, many students are critical of the organization’s intentions, labeling it as pointless and unnecessary. Being used to groups like this to promote change, raise awareness or fundraise money for charity, Midwest Pride Day doesn’t seem to have much of a distinctive purpose, senior Khaymen Hoelscher said.
“Well, Midwest Pride Day doesn’t seem to have anything to go with it- there is no real substance to it other than the fact that we should be prideful of where we live. … It just seems like a silly idea,” Hoelscher said. “It’s just a day of the year that people are going to forget about. The idea is good but the execution has been flawed.”
However, Turban assures the day is all in good fun to raise awareness and recognize the positives and reasons to celebrate the area Missouri students live in. Even though the appointed day may not feed the hungry or mean much to some, Turban hopes when many students travel across the country in a few months after senior graduation, the Midwest can be something looked back on with tribute and commemoration, he said.
“The whole point of the day is just awareness, there’s no monumental thing that’s trying to get done except awareness and that there are people who are intently proud of living in the Midwest, and that in itself is important,” Turban said. “If I could have one measurement of the end goal of Midwest Pride Day, it’s if when we leave – because a lot of us are leaving college away from Missouri – but when we leave and people ask where we are from you [can say] ‘I’m from the great state of Missouri, I’m from the Midwest, and it rocks,’- the end goal is to spread pride and not just your pride, to recognize pride.”
By Kaitlyn Marsh
Additional reporting by Jake Alden