Students attend BLM protests

Kamiah Kelly

Seeking justice for those who were wrongly killed led three Battle students to attend protests for Black Lives Matter in downtown Columbia during the summer. With the recent deaths of many people in the black community advocates looking for justice have orchestrated protests for the cause.

Brianna Schultz, sophomore, attended two protests this summer. Schultz said, “It was powerful to be around lots of people who feel strongly about the same things as you.”

When participating in a protest it may make you feel so many different emotions as you are speaking out for what you believe in.

Zoe Walker, sophomore, attended four protests this summer. Walker said, “We’re angry. What’s going on with police brutality isn’t right.”

Various protests for the BLM movement started in May after the death of George Floyd went nationwide. George Floyd was a forty-six year-old black man who was killed by a white policeman named Derek Chauvin. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, not listening to Floyd while he was repeatedly saying he could not breathe. 

Asia Smith, senior, attended three protests this summer. Smith said, “Police brutality, systematic racism, micro aggression, etc., has happened since the beginning of this country. The more people are aware and the more it is prominent in society the more people will act on it.”

Speaking out in any way and continuing an open dialogue will bring awareness to the injustice in the system that many people face to this day. 

“Talking about these things at home or to your friends, this can not be just black thing, everyone has to stand hand in hand for this to change.” Walker said.

Educating yourself and others about the movement is one of the most important things you should do. You can educate yourself by reading books, using reliable sources and talking to people.

“The first step in spreading awareness is educating yourself, spreading false information is the same as spreading no information at all. No matter how little your platform is the people who are willing to listen will listen,” Schultz said.

Systematic racism in America has been prevalent since before 1776. When the Civil Rights Movement started in 1954, many people took to the streets and protested; they were met with K9 units and police, who sprayed them with powerful hoses. In many cities, but not Columbia, the peaceful protests that people attended in May and months after that all over the world were met with similar attacks, including tear gas, pepper spray, and arrest.

“They say all men are created equally, then slavery and the Jim Crow laws and so much more were created to oppress black people. Black people were not even seen as real people,” Walker said.

Racial injustices are still very apparent in today’s society as seen from the recent deaths of many innocent black men and women. 

“Whatever the justice system is doing right now is not working, especially for the black community. People are getting hurt and killed, we are tired of this,” Smith said.

The BLM movement is something people of all races and ethnicities can join together in. It is not a trend, it is the recognition that innocent lives have been taken and a fight for change.

“As I am a black woman these issues matter. Knowing that people of all ethnicities and races are fighting for others who look like me is so heartwarming. The idea of more change for the better is what keeps me going,” Schultz said. 

“My life matters. Change is near and coming, we are wanting to open people’s eyes and show them what’s wrong,” Walker said. 

Asia Smith is a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) youth program. Information on protests, working polls, and more available on their website or from the president of the Columbia chapter Mary Ratliff. 

“My life is not greater than anyone else’s and no one else’s is greater than mine. Everyone should have the decency to treat others with respect, it may not be an easy thing to do at times,” Smith said. “If we understand that we are all human, we all have life struggles, loves, losses and responsibilities, that alone can help gain a better perspective of what Black Lives Matters is.” 

In the memory of all the lives we have lost to police brutality and racial injustice, Rest In Peace.