Chants of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” could be heard throughout campus Nov. 3, when members of the Black Student Union, dressed in all black, marched to the PUB steps holding photos of African-Americans who have been killed by the police.
The BSU blackout was organized to educate the campus on the issues of police brutality and to make African-American voices heard on campus.
BSU President Satori Butler organized the event as a response to an opinion piece published in The Easterner on Oct. 15 and as a way to announce an open forum being held on Nov. 14.
“We want to educate people that aren’t aware of what happens in the African-American community,” said Butler. “The piece that was published in the paper lacked intelligence, lacked knowledge of African-American history.”
With a large crowd watching, members of BSU took turns telling the stories behind the photos they held, using a loudspeaker.
Joining students in the crowd was ASEWU President Dahir “D.J.” Jigre who said this is an unfortunate situation but said he felt this is a learning experience that the student body could use to grow together.
“[BSU] took this as an opportunity to say, ‘This is our community, we are the Black Student Union and we need to handle this matter in a way that is efficient,’” said Jigre. “Right now, things are calm, things are back to normal and at a point where we can talk about this and that is the effective way.”
Sergeant Bryan Dornbos from the EWU Police Department was at the demonstration to make sure it was a peaceful event. Campus police have a presence at most on-campus demonstrations.
“I made contact with the Black Student Union, gave them my card and told them I would be there to make sure it was safe and successful,” said Dornbos.
Butler said she was glad campus police were present and allowed the event to take place.
After announcing the names and situations of the oppressed faces in their photos, BSU members came together to sing the Black National Anthem. Then Joshuena Williams invited the crowd to come to the BSU open forum.
“Seeing how many people came out is a step,” said Butler. “People are willing to support and they made the effort. That is key.”