New grad Aram Sahakyan organizes major Fort Collins marches this summer

aram sahakyan speaking at march
Aram Sahakyan speaks at March for Change event

Aram Sahakyan did not plan on becoming a community organizer within weeks of graduating from CSU, but that’s exactly what happened. Spurred by the prevalence of police violence and the recent killing of George Floyd, the philosophy grad decided to take action. He explains, “I organized the first march because I felt like I could do more for the movement as a whole besides simple social media advocacy. So I took a leap of faith and started promoting this march on my personal social media and it just blew up from there.”

The first event, the Black Lives Matter and Racial Unity March, was held on June 2. The stated purpose of the march was “to express solidarity, condemn injustices and racism, and promote unity.” While Aram threw it together quickly, the theme of racial unity has always been central to his life.  He is a first-generation Armenian-American with immigrant parents. Aram explains, “My whole life I’ve had to learn how to balance all my different ethnic identities. Moreover, I grew up around so many different people. From a young age I had friends of all different backgrounds.” Aram wanted to bring that sense belonging and solidarity to his event.  “The theme of racial unity for me was this idea to bring people of different colors and creeds together to create a sense of unity and to show that we are all in this together.”


The march started on the CSU Oval and proceeded to Fort Collins City Hall, where Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swoboda spoke to the crowd. Participants then moved to Old Town Square, and lay face down to symbolize Floyd’s last moments. Aram was moved by the response and the attendance of the event: “It could not have gone better. It was incredibly moving and multiple people encouraged me to organize another very soon.”

students marching at rally
Students and community members march for Black lives and racial unity

Aram joined forces with Audra Koopman (a Fort Collins resident attending college at Penn State) and Roderick Green (also a new grad) to organize the March for Change 2020 on June 13. Aram met Audra and Roderick at his first march and saw them as “true leaders.” With more time and organization, as well as the momentum from the first march, the three co-organized the March for Change 2020 on June 13. “The second march was even better than the first. Rep Joe Neguse came to speak. Members of the CSU community came to speak. We had small business owners that were BIPOC [black, indigenous, and people of color] come to speak as well. It was incredible.”

student leaders at rally
Leaders of the March for Unity: Roderick Green, Aram Sahakyan, and Audra Koopman

Aram reflects on the role of philosophy on his new activism.  “Studying philosophy has driven my desire to live a good life and be a good person. These marches were all a part of that master plan. In everything and anything I do, I want to be good and do it well.”  Despite the huge success of these marches, Aram does not consider himself an activist. “I’m just trying to be a good person at the end of the day.”

Aram has now returned to his home state of Maryland to move ahead with his post-graduation plans. While law school is in his future, Aram is pursuing a variety of other opportunities before moving forward with law. Regardless of his direction and future career, Aram says he “will continue to advocate for those that need a voice.”