​Black Lives Matter Activists Form Protests

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Students and community organizers recently joined a Black Lives Matter (BLM) effort, conducting silent protests at Sewanee’s home football games by kneeling during the National Anthem.
Activists plan a similar protest at the Homecoming Game on Nov. 5, and supporters are asked to arrive by 11:40 a.m., dressed in black with any signs they may want to bring.
Brandon Iracks-Edelin, a Sewanee junior and past president of the student-led African American Alliance, encourages people to ask protesters questions about Black Lives Matter and race equality.
“I would like to see attention brought to the issue,” he said. “We’re not trying to disrespect anybody; in fact, we want to make conversation. If it makes some people uncomfortable, just imagine when a situation makes you uncomfortable every day. Imagine waking up uncomfortable every day because of worrying how others perceive you based on the color of your skin.”
Iracks-Edelin has participated in several Black Lives Matter related events in Sewanee, as well as participating in a BLM march with his former high school in Washington, D.C.
“We really want to spark conversations,” he said. “It’s a learning opportunity for both groups. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. We should be able to learn and grow with each other instead of forming rash judgments.”
In addition to African American Alliance (AAA) members, others participating in the protests include people from the Cumberland Center for Justice and Peace (CCJP), the School of Theology and University faculty.
Chandler Davenport, a Sewanee sophomore and community service chair of the Alliance, said the protests started after two Sewanee football players, Kirk Murphy and Ronald Hayes, wore Black Lives Matter related messages during games.
In the first Black Lives Matter protest during the game against Rhodes College, about 25 people participated; at the next home game that number was 15, Davenport said, noting that an earlier start time may have affected participation.
“The Sewanee community has been very supportive thus far. We have been listening for any possible resistance and checking social media but nothing has surfaced so far,” she said.
Charles Whitmer, director of CCJP, has participated in making signs and in the silent protests at football games.
“One thing that’s really struck me about Sewanee and the University broadly, is that we say everyone is welcome here. The longer I’m here the more I’m seeing not everyone is welcome. One of the things we need to be asking is, ‘Do people feel welcome?’”
Whitmer said he is encouraged that student voices of color seem to be elevated, especially in the past year with the University hosting speakers of color and cultural opportunities.
In addition to protests, activists took “solidarity photos” on the Quad for personal and organizational social media accounts, Davenport noted.
Elizabeth Skomp, Sewanee’s associate dean for faculty development and inclusion, said she is encouraged by the Black Lives Matter effort.
“For my part, I am always glad to see students engaging broadly and deeply with issues of contemporary concern,” Skomp said.
The AAA is hosting a showing of the new documentary “13th” on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 5 p.m. in the Mary Sue Cushman room of the Bairnwick Women’s Center, with everyone welcome. The Alliance meets the first and third Sunday of the month from 5 to 6 p.m. in the ABC Rooms in McClurg.
“Yes, AAA is a student-run organization, but the issues we are discussing affect our entire community,” Davenport said.
For more information, visit the “Sewanee African American Alliance: Sewanaaa” on Facebook and “Sewanaaa” on Instagram. University-related efforts for inclusion and diversity can be found at provost.sewanee.edu/diversity-inclusion-and-cohesion.
2024 April
2024 March
2024 February
2024 January
2023 December
2023 November
2023 October
2023 September
2023 August
2023 July
2023 June
2023 May
2023 April
2023 March
2023 February
2023 January
2022 December
2022 November
2022 October
2022 September
2022 August
2022 July
2022 June
2022 May
2022 April
2022 March
2022 February
2022 January
2021 December
2021 November
2021 October
2021 September
2021 August
2021 July
2021 June
2021 May
2021 April
2021 March
2021 February
2021 January
2020 December
2020 November
2020 October
2020 September
2020 August
2020 July
2020 June
2020 May
2020 April
2020 March
2020 February
2020 January
2019 December
2019 November
2019 October
2019 September
2019 August
2019 July
2019 June
2019 May
2019 April
2019 March
2019 February
2019 January
2018 December
2018 November
2018 October
2018 September
2018 August
2018 July
2018 June
2018 May
2018 April
2018 March
2018 February
2018 January
2017 December
2017 November
2017 October
2017 September
2017 August
2017 July
2017 June
2017 May
2017 April
2017 March
2017 February
2017 January
2016 December
2016 November
2016 October
2016 September
2016 August
2016 July
2016 June
2016 May
2016 April
2016 March
2016 February
2016 January
2015 December
2015 November
2015 October
2015 September
2015 August
2015 July
2015 June
2015 May
2015 April
2015 March
2015 February
2015 January
2014 December
2014 November
2014 October
2014 September
2014 August
2014 July
2014 June
2014 May
2014 April
2014 March
2014 February
2014 January
2013 December
2013 November
2013 October
2013 September
2013 August
2013 July
2013 June
2013 May
2013 April
2013 March
2013 February
2013 January
2012 December
2012 November
2012 October
2012 September
2012 August
2012 July
2012 June
2012 May
2012 April
2012 March
2012 February
2012 January
2011 December
2011 November
2011 October
2011 September
2011 August
2011 July
2011 June
2011 May
2011 April
2011 March
2011 February
2011 January
2010 December
2010 November
2010 October
2010 September
2010 August
2010 July
2010 June
2010 May