Rula Saaed / Sun Staff Photographer

Poets recite spoken word at the launch of Ithaca's Black Lives Matter movement Wednesday.

February 3, 2016

Rally Launches Start of Black Lives Matter in Ithaca

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Over 50 local residents and students gathered together at a local elementary school Wednesday evening to celebrate the launch of Black Lives Matter Ithaca.

The event began with two spoken word performances by members of the Black Lives Matter Ithaca community. To explain the need for the movement, Ithaca resident Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, grad, drew a parallel with the comic books that she enjoyed as a child, explaining that black children need more role models.

“Black girls want to have a hero too. All kids trying to get that mirror view. Cartoons gotta represent my hue” she said in rhythm. “You probably think I’m reaching, but when I started sketching, the first thing I could think of was drawing yellow dresses over pink skin faces.”

Lumumba-Kasongo was followed by Dubian, who declined to be identified by his full name. He gave a similar performance, making several references to various racial protests that have occurred over the past several years.

“Never have we screamed so loud…Loud like 500 strong in Baltimore throwing stones into windows,” he said. “There is protest in living.”

After Dubian’s performance he spoke about the motivation behind the founding of the Black Lives Matter Ithaca movement.

“There have been many protests, rallies and candle-lit vigils,” he said. “Black Lives Matter is a call to action and a response to the anti-black racism that permeates our society.”

Prof. Russell Rickford, history, spoke about the contradictions that exist in our society and how he believes they led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The main contradiction of black life today is on one hand, legally equality and superficial inclusion, and on the other hand economic uncertainty,” he said. “It is this paradox that has produced the national Black Lives Matter movement … Now a group of black organizers from all walks of life have come together to form Black Lives Matter Ithaca.”

Phoebe Brown, a local activist and one of the event organizers, said she would represent the people who could not be present at Black Lives Matter Ithaca meetings.

“If I’m in the room I’m representing [the voices that are not usually heard], because that’s where I come from,” she said.  “I was born and raised in Harlem. I was around for a lot of movements. And I represent them when I come.”­­