By Brian Riley
During the fall 2015 semester, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) club made its return to campus after a year of absence. The club’s mission is to help the advancement of colored people, like its name says, but on a smaller level suited for Post. The club is also working as an avenue to push the message of ‘Black Lives Matter’.
The club went dormant last year, when the former president left school without notifying any of the other members. Current members are unsure exactly why the former president left. It was only last semester when current President Antonette Dauré, a senior forensic science major, decided to step up. “I just wanted it to start back up, and I didn’t see anyone doing anything about it,” Dauré said. Keeping the campus aware and educated about what is going on in the black community is at the top of her agenda for the club.
She plans to do this peacefully, but, in a way so that the club’s message is heard loud and clear. On Dec. 7, in the lobby of Hillwood Commons, the NACCP club did just that. Approximately 15 members of the club and supporters held a silent sit in, while holding signs that read #STAYWOKE, #WEARENOTALLCRIMINALS, #EVERY28HOURS, #BLACKLIVESMATTER. These are all popular hashtags on social media that are about raising awareness of what is happening in the black community.
Kevin Guardia, a senior forensics science major who is the Head of Public Relations for the club, is aware of the negative anti-white perceptions that come along with the NAACP and Black Lives Matter. As a countermeasure, Guardia said, “Normally we try to have a welcoming environment and invite everyone, not just black students.” He added, “We give everyone a chance to give their input at the meetings.” Guardia, who is from Peru, is a walking example that the club is not only for black students. Guardia joined because of his several black friends and Dauré reaching out to him.
‘Black Lives Matter’ is a phrase that has grown from a hashtag to a movement over the past few years. To most, the first time they heard the saying was most likely through a trending hashtag on social media. The motivation to start this organization came when George Zimmerman, who was charged in the murder of 18-year-old Trayvon Martin, was acquitted, according to blacklivesmatter.com. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, shot Martin, who was an unarmed black male, after he was instructed by 911 not to pursue, according to the New York Times. Zimmerman acknowledged that he shot Martin, but claimed that it was in self-defense. This case led to a national debate for the months leading up to the decision.
The sign that said, #EVERY28HOURS is paying homage to the statistic that every 28 hours a black person is killed by a police officer, according to the Huffington Post. On Dec. 7, the club wanted to send a message, and they did. Although #EVERY28HOURS can sound anti-law enforcement, club treasurer Jessie Pierre, a senior psychology major, said, “We push more of a social awareness rather than anti-police.” During their silent sit in, members noticed how people were looking in admiration of what they were doing. When Dauré saw members of the office of Campus Life, she thought that they were going to be shut down, but in reality it was quite the opposite.
After about 20 minutes of sitting in silence, the group gained quite a crowd and took a break. People came up to them to tell them how they appreciated what they were doing and others stopped and took pictures. Due to the unexpected amount of support and observers who wanted to join, they did another 15 to 20 minute sit in with several more people joining. “Afterward I was really proud and honored to have you guys do this,” Dauré said. “People were just blown away by this; we are really touching home here.”
Some of the additional people who came were from the Campus Life office, which never actually approved the event. Earlier in the fall semester, the club had planned to march around campus raising awareness, but the event was canceled because it was deemed unsafe by the office of Public Safety. The idea of the march falls in line with what was done after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Brown, who was an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2014, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in Ferguson, a suburb in St. Louis, according to the New York Times. As a result it ignited a working-class suburb of about 20,000 residents. Hundreds of people gathered at the scene of the shooting to question the police.
This semester, the club is attempting to put an event together called Bury the N-word, which will shed some light on the use of derogatory terms. The event is still in the developing stages, but the concept will be physically burying some of society’s derogatory terms.
The club is planning its first meeting of the semester. Last semester, meetings were on Monday nights in either the Hillwood Cinema in Hillwood Commons or in The Endzone in Hillwood Commons. For more information, email the president at email@example.com.