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Library holds 'Black Lives Matter' event

Attendees speak on humanity and race

The University's library staff hosted a discussion Friday in the Special Collections Library titled "Black Lives Matter: More Than Just a Statement" to allow members of the community to speak about injustices against black individuals and discuss why black lives matter to them.

The event highlighted the phrase "black lives matter," which was sparked by the recent protests throughout the nation over the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Testimonials given by attendees had an overarching theme of humanity — and the lack thereof — shown toward black individuals.

"Growing up, [black individuals] were some if my greatest mentors," said Michelle Sawwan, the program coordinator of multicultural student services. "They never saw me through a racial divide or put me in a box, so I refuse to do that."

Petrina Jackson, the head of instruction and outreach at the Special Collections Library, said that there is a gap in the documentation of black lives in the University’s history.

"The majority of the records of the history of this University have become monuments to white men," Jackson said. "In order to reduce this gap, we need the stories of African-American students to be told."

Jackson emphasized that voices of black students and faculty need to be documented in order to improve scholarly research and understand the history behind various minority organizations at the University.

Numerous individuals said not only do black lives matter, but "all lives matter" and that the amount of adversity black lives face is far too great.

Fourth-year College student Augustina Mensa-Kwao, discussed her disappointment at society’s need to justify the importance of black lives.

"The reason we are asking these questions is because we have to look at the deep structures of inequality and they force us to ask this question," Mensa-Kwao said. "When a black life is born, they are born into inequality and the systems in place are controlling the black body."

A majority of those who spoke noted the aggressive behavior shown by police toward black individuals and discussed the fear they have for themselves and their families. Individuals also asserted that black lives should matter regardless of the level of education or wealth, and whether or not an individual has been incarcerated.