While for many, names like Trayvon Martin, Cornelius Brown and Alton Sterling represent stories to be read in the news, for over a hundred faculty, staff, administrators and students, the names are a call to action.
Members of Black Students United gathered at the Center for Intercultural Dialogue and marched to Ho Plaza on Friday, chanting slogans such as “black lives matter,” “no justice, no peace” and “they say get back, we say fight back.”
Delmar Fears ’19 expressed a need to take action after the “senseless and unjust murders of innocent black people.”
“Too many innocent lives have been taken, and far too few voices have spoken out against it,” she told the crowd before the rally. “I implore you, speak your voices and lend your hands, so that no more lives are needlessly taken.”
Others echoed the same sentiment, adding that they are tired of meaningless actions, including discussions and forums that do not result in concrete action.
BSU co-president Jaylexia Clark ’19 read a speech by Prof. Russell Rickford, history, discussing the “fallacies” that “the corporate power structure aggressively propagates” to maintain its influence.
“The managers of the status quo hate resistance,” Clark read from the speech. “So they try to guide any dissent that arises into ‘safe’ channels. You will notice a proliferation of forums, discussions, and meetings organized by system administrators and devoted to ‘dialogue’ and ‘awareness.’”
Others voiced their frustration with what they have been hearing on the news. Kayla Lewis ’17, said that rather than support on social media, she wants to take real action.
“I’m tired and I’m upset,” she said. “There’s only so much retweeting I can do.”
Lewis added that she hopes the rally will encourage people to examine the racial issues that have been prevalent in recent national discourse.
“People often live a real sheltered life up here. That’s what I’ve observed,” she said. “What I want them to do is start questioning. Ask their friends, go on the internet. If you have a phone, if you have internet access, you shouldn’t be confused about what’s happening here. Go get as upset as I am.”
Former co-president of BSU Samari Gilbert ’17 and BSU advisor Renee Alexander ’74 called the rally successful, saying the level of support demonstrated by those on campus — including dean of student and campus life Ryan Lombardi — was encouraging.
“I’ve been watching the protests in Charlotte,” Alexander said. “There are some broader issues shaping student activism, national issues that are pressing down on our college campuses and I’m really happy to see our students responding in a way that makes us know that they are involved in the issues.”
Despite the success of the rally, the march is far from the last word from the group, according to Gaylord Minett ’17.
“This is not the last thing that we’re going to do,” he said. “This is just a display of the initiative that we’re taking as Black Lives Matter. By no means does this do anything, it just shows people that this is what the fuck we standing for … Everything else we do follows this initiative.”