[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Nearly 70 students, faculty and community members marched through campus as part of the Black Lives Matter vigil Nov. 5.
Sophomore Darell Hawley planned and organized the event, with support from the Multicultural Affairs Center. Hawley says she was inspired after attending the Million Man March in the District of Columbia. She says she enjoyed the sense of unification, and she wanted to see this kind of unity on campus in a peaceful, respectful way.
“When we see [police brutality] so much, we become numb to it and I don’t want that to happen,” Hawley says.
Hawley says she created the vigil to foster empathy for families who have lost loved ones to police brutality.
“I just kind of mapped out places that would be seen,” Hawley says. “We started at the MAC and then walked towards Ryle, and down dorm row, and then through The Quad and around the library.”
Hawley says flags were placed around campus to represent the 28 unarmed black men and women killed by police during 2015. She says at each flag, she read off a name and in some cases, she shared victims’ backstories and names of the family members left behind.
Hawley says she witnessed several different reactions to the vigil. She said many people were excited, but some were displeased. Despite those negative responses, Hawley says she felt the sense of unity she wanted.
“I would like to keep the energy going,” Hawley says.
Hawley says she currently has no plans for future events, but she said she would like to see more events to foster unity.
Support from the Multicultural Affairs Center
Carol Bennett, assistant dean of the MAC, says she helped Hawley with planning when help was needed.
“We understand that not all police officers are bad,” Bennett says. “We’re focusing on the ones that use abusive force when it is not necessary.”
Bennett says the vigil was not intended to be anti-police. She says the vigil used flags, candles and stories as a way to honor the dead individuals. She says the flags are still around campus.
Bennett says she understood from day one that many students constantly have been reminded Truman State is a liberal arts college and critical thinking is important.
“This is part of that critical thinking — looking at the lives of people who have been marginalized and continue to be marginalized,” Bennett says.
Bennett says the vigil resonated with her and served as a reminder to be aware and to work to make sure these incidents don’t happen again.
Creating Safe Spaces
Senior Vanessa Alexander says she thinks this event was important to have on campus because Truman has a predominantly white student body. Alexander says she wants students to be more educated about this matter because she thinks it is not always discussed in sufficient depth.
“These are people and they mean something to someone in the world and they mean some thing to us as well,” Alexander says.
Alexander says she would like to see a higher attendance at open discussions hosted by the MAC.
“[The discussions] are safe zones,” Alexander says. “We are here to learn from each other. I want more people to feel comfortable and understand that they are wanted at these events. It’s not just for a specific population here on campus — it’s for everyone.”[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efsDEyJXXFI”][/vc_column][/vc_row]