Black Lives Matter conversation continues

Graduate student Sarah Williams, right, and Rico Thompson chant “Black Lives Matter” during the Louisiana Tech. game, Thursday, garnering the attention of some people in attendance. While most of the crowd cheered as the Hilltoppers played, Williams and Thompson, along with other individuals, chose to demonstrate. Williams said there is no established group behind the act, “just a student led initiative to bring the Black Live Matter movement to WKU.” Alyse Young/HERALD

Brittany Greeson

It has been over a year since protests echoed from Ferguson, Missouri, over the nation and across international borders. The voices of the Black Lives Matter movement began as a rallying outcry in protest of police brutality following the deaths of several African-Americans.

Today the message, which gained traction in the African-American community on social media, has transformed into a web organization and a widely used hashtag: #blacklivesmatter. 

For WKU alumna Sarah Williams, the Black Lives Matter movement has become an opportunity to start a localized conversation on race. 

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, Williams is partnering with WKU Black Culture Center and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to host “Black Lives Matter: Continuing the Conversation” at the first floor auditorium of Mass Media and Technology Hall from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

“This is much more of a conversation rather than somebody in a certain position talking to people and going from there,” Williams said. “We find ourselves in a day and time where some of the things we fought for and supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement—we find ourselves still fighting for those same things.”

A short documentary of news clips and protest experiences will be shown at the beginning of the event to give audience members a scope of background information. Students, faculty and community members are welcome to attend, and teenagers from the Bowling Green Boys and Girls Club of America will be observing the event. 

Kristina Gamble, program coordinator for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, feels that what is most important is the power of education as a tool even if some students are skeptical: 

“What I would say for students is that if you have an opinion on the movement and what it is, great. Come and express that. If you don’t have an opinion and you’re unsure on what Black Lives Matter means, then come as well,” Gamble said.

“I think that’s what it’s about. When you engage in dialogue, it’s not about what’s the right answer or trying to distinctly define what the movement is and what it’s not, and to box people in or ideas in.”

A Facebook page for the event has been created in hopes of recruiting an audience of contributors and observers. This includes individuals who have seen the community of Bowling Green’s relationship with race transition over time. 

Bowling Green native Rachel Young, 22, was invited to the event by a friend and hopes the event will allow the minority community to let off steam while discussing important local issues. 

“In Bowling Green I hope to see the police force being able to respond positively. In the community there is an open dialogue on what the police force can do to make people feel more comfortable,” Young said. “The responses I’ve heard are that people of color are afraid of the police, and the police are offended that they’re afraid.” 

Both Gamble and Williams said the event’s success will not be measured in numbers but in how the conversation can ripple throughout the Bowling Green community. 

“I think regardless, the whole goal is to take something away,” Gamble said. “So if one person leaves and feel (sic) that they understand the movement better—that something was clarified—then that’s okay. That one or two people can take that information back to their dorms or back to their communities and have another dialogue session.”

Ed. note: A previous version of this article stated that the “Black Lives Matter: Continuing the Conversation” event would be held in the second floor auditorium in Mass Media and Technology Hall. The event is being held in the first floor auditorium. This error has been corrected in the online version of this article, and a correction will run in the Thursday print edition of the Herald. The Herald regrets this error.