In celebration of Black History Month, the Black Student Union club (BSU) put up signs displaying photos of leaders in the black community, quotes from Martin Luther King Junior and Oprah Winfrey, and one sign displaying the popular hashtag “Black Lives Matter.” Within 24 hours of their posting, an anonymous student put up their own posters nearby, responding to BSU with the hashtag “All Lives Matter.”
“I was internally battling putting that sign up…I wanted it to be up because I believe Black Lives Matter. I understand the difference in the movement and the hashtag, and that some people view it as us saying black lives matter more, but…I wanted to put it there to honor black lives,” said senior Terry Parker, copresident of BSU.
The “All Lives Matter” posters were not up for long, as they immediately sparked student reaction.
“I saw [the posters] as I was walking to my morning class, and I grabbed them and threw them away. It was so disrespectful to BSU and students in general, that they would post that hurtful statement,” sophomore Rebecca Freeman said.
Sophomore Mariah Pointier, co-president of BSU, has great respect for the love and appreciation she has received from students in response to this act, especially those that are not a part of the black community on campus.
“Those signs that had said ‘All Lives Matter’ weren’t just taken down by black students. It’s great to know that there are other ethnicities being part of this conversation and stepping up us because that’s what diversity is. Not just one culture speaking for one another but all of us together,” Pointier said.
Parker and Pointier want to make sure students know that all are welcome to celebrate this month, not just people of color.
“…It can be easy to feel like celebrating BHM is anti-white, but…it’s not anti-anything to celebrate my own culture, if anything, we want all to celebrate along with us, not feel guilty or like we are against them,” Parker said.
In addition to putting up signs, BSU has done a lot to honor black history this month.
For the first time ever, BSU hosted a “Caf-takeover” in which they asked different students to perform in front of their peers in homage to black culture. They also created a banner, which is currently hanging outside of Scott Courtyard to commemorate the month.
“We’re just trying to make our presence known this month. We have a lot of new things happening, my favorite being the lecture with Dr. Lawrence about black business and economics, which I was most excited for since Vanguard doesn’t offer any kind of class like that. It was a cool thing to give a new perspective on campus about black history beyond slavery,” Pointier said.
In facilitating these events and conversations, Parker hopes to help black students on campus feel recognized and honored. He wants to make sure that the things students care about are happening on campus and being talked about.
“I hope our black students feel like they are seen…I also hope to invite those that are not black into celebrating black culture and addressing the stigma that celebrating black culture is antagonizing another culture. I hope that is ended this year,” Parker said.