Morgan Colvin, a junior political science and English double major, is asking classmates, staff and faculty to put their name behind a movement: the Black Lives Matter movement.
Colvin has started a petition to get a Black Lives Matter flag hung on the flagpole between Andrews Hall and Lawson Hall for Black History Month.
Colvin said the petition is so Student Senate will take this issue seriously when deciding whether to approve or disapprove the proposal.
The Black Lives Matter movement, according to its website, is “a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities.”
Colvin said she thinks having the flag during Black history month feels important.
“(The flag would be) in recognition of issues that African Americans deal with day to day, and it’s just bringing light to it and educating and informing people on this campus about it,” Colvin said.
She said it’s an important symbol for Eastern to show.
“I want to show that EIU is truly about diversity and we’re not just saying that we are,” Colvin said.
Keshyra Bluminberg, a junior English secondary education major, said people often miss the point of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think it’s a very misunderstood movement … It’s not just saying only black lives matter, obviously not, obviously more lives matter, but it’s saying (black lives) matter, too. That’s something that is important especially with the political climate that we’re in,” Bluminberg said. “It’s significant to show people that they’re not overlooked, (and) that’s what I think the Black Lives Matter movement is about.”
Bluminberg said having this flag raised during black history month would show that students are not alone, especially minorities, and that they have people who think and look like they do.
Colvin said that Eastern would not be the first public university to do something like this, with the University of Vermont having hoisted a Black Lives Matter flag in 2016.
“It has had backlash, but (the flag is) not for the people who are attacking; it is for the people that really want it,” Colvin said.
Colvin said that because Eastern is a predominantly white institution, movements like this are not always discussed in detail in professional settings like a classroom.
“It’s not that (non-black) lives don’t matter, it’s acknowledgment that black people matter too in this country, and in history it shows that (black people) don’t matter,” Colvin said. “We want to bring light to (that).”
Colvin said the movement highlights America’s unwillingness to deal with racism.
“The pushback that (the Black Lives Matter movement) is getting, it really just shows that America isn’t ready to have this conversation,” Colvin said. “It really discourages me as a young African American woman trying to practice law in this country, trying to make a difference in this country, and the fact that (the movement is) even getting backlash for it just existing is terrible.”
Colvin and Bluminberg said this flag would just be acknowledging a problem that has existed in America since its formation, and that cannot be solved until it is talked about.
Colvin said she encourages people who might not believe in this movement to sign the petition anyway for their friends or classmates who are experiencing struggles because of their race.
The petition can be found at https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/908/526/476/ and any questions or concerns can be directed to Colvin at [email protected]
Student body president Rebecca Cash said senators have been in contact with Colvin, and discussions about the flag will began within the next couple of weeks.
Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]