‘Movement’ continues with ‘die-in demonstration’ across campus

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Continuous shouts of “Black lives matter,” “I can’t breath” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” echoed off the residence halls as about 150 students, faculty and staff marched from the South to North Quad and finally to Old Main Friday night.

About 50 students lay on the ground in front of Old Main’s gates protesting in silence by participating in a die-in demonstration. The students lay on the ground for 17 minutes representing the amount of black lives lost to police brutality this year.

Those who were not lying down stepped forward and announced that they were victims such as Trayvon Martin or Eric Garner. Those who read the paper read it as if they were the victims of police violence stating how they were killed.

Participants first gathered in front of the Doudna Fine Arts Center steps wearing black in solidarity prior to the march, some giving speeches and reciting emotional poems about struggles with racism.

Members from various organizations were also present at the march, such as EIU Pride, the Black Student Union, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Zeta Phi Beta sorority and many other historically black Greek organizations.

“This is not about me, or you, or BSU or any organization on campus; this is a central issue,” said Alexis Lambert, the president of BSU. “This is not just an issue that revolves around race.”

Lambert said Americans couldn’t win the same war if they are all fighting different ones on the same front.

“It’s been a rough few years for the African-American community,” said Reginald Thedford, the student body president, as he addressed the crowd.

Yolanda Williams, a gateway advisor, was asked to give a speech at the march, to which she admitted she did not know what to say. She said that was unusual for her, so she prayed and found an article that was an open letter to black students from black faculty and staff members at various colleges.

As Williams read the letter with powerful conviction and emotion, many students were noticeably wiping their eyes and sniffling. The letter, signed by black faulty and staff members from various institutions throughout the nation, included Williams. It spoke of hushed voices, racial incidents on campuses and how to be mindful of whom to trust.

“‘We remind you, skin folk isn’t always kinfolk,’” Williams said, quoting the letter.

Williams herself grew emotional as the letter got deeper admitting to times when professors themselves had to be silence, or of letters they wrote to administrators about what is or isn’t just.

“‘We see you. We hear you. We love you,’” Williams quoted the letter.

Akeem Forbes, the organizer of the march, challenged the administration to step up and participate in more movements such as this.

“Last time I checked, we paid tuition to this school,” Forbes said. “We all bleed red, but more importantly we bleed blue.”

Forbes also said Mona Davenport, the director of minority affairs, should have been present for the march, and should be present at more minority events in general.

About 20 students stood in front of the gates of Old Main each shouting continuously, “No justice no peace,” some standing on many sides of the street, cars honked and or waved their fists showing support. 

“I’m really proud of our students and our faculty and staff,” said President Bill Perry.

University Police Officers were present at the march as they stood inside Old Main; however, when University Police Department Officer Andrea Beals was asked for comment, she declined.

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].