More than 100 students marched through Oxford for a Black Lives Matter protest on Friday, Sept. 25.
“Miami is not interested in critical change,” said Tenudi Genana, a Black sophomore and organizer of the protest. “They should actually care about their Black students. And if they are not going to listen to us, then we are going to have to do it the hard way, to protest.”
The protest was originally planned for Aug. 17 but was postponed until students were back on campus for the fall semester.
Genana organized the protest for many reasons, the most important being that she feels Miami has no intention of dismantling white supremacy.
“Miami’s real problem is that the school is built off white supremacy, and uplifting white supremacy does clearly benefit [the university] and [administrators] clearly understand what to do to dismantle this,” Genana said. “Like there’s so many things that [Miami] can do to dismantle this, but [university officials] are choosing not to because most of their donors are white men.”
Protesters wore black and came to the demonstration with homemade signs. Those who attended were required to wear masks and were asked to social distance. Organizers offered free masks to those without one.
The protest began outside the Armstrong Student Center, with students like Cameron Bracely, a Black junior at Miami, encouraging students to register to vote.
Bracely said in addition to getting students registered to vote, he also attended the protest to help bring awareness to the needed change at Miami.
Shortly after 4 p.m., Genana and Nicole Newsome, co-leader of BLM Oxford and a Black senior at Miami, gathered protestors for opening remarks.
Before marching, Newsome spoke about acknowledging the disproportionate number of Black people and people of color that experience police brutality and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Protestors then marched up Spring Street from Armstrong. The march turned at Main Street toward High Street, and then marchers turned down High, ending at Lewis Place, the residence of President Crawford
As students marched along the sidewalks, different chants echoed through the crowd: “Black Lives Matter,” “Say her name, Breonna Taylor” and “No justice, no peace,” were just a few..
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Those who passed by in cars honked to show their support for the cause or screamed phrases like “Trump 2020” against the protest.
Once protestors arrived at Lewis Place, Genana, Newsome and Sinait Sarfino, junior at Miami, each gave speeches about the lives of Black people in America.
“Ideally, if we want to see change, we go to the person who can actually administer that change, and the person that you want to see being a part of that change.” Sarfino said. “Crawford is the highest authority we can get to, and that’s why we are [at Lewis Place].”
Newsome spoke about racism at Miami and in the United States.
“Change cannot happen without unity,” Newsome said through a megaphone. “People are still dying every single day. We are going to continue to be out here and do something until systemic oppression across the United States, at Miami University, comes to an end.”
After almost every sentence, protesters cheered at Newsome’s words.
“The verdict of Breonna Taylor was unacceptable,” Newsome said. “It was bullshit. Because none of it had to do with her murder. We are in pain. The world continues to be in shambles. This genocide of Black folks, of marginalized communities, is accepted and praised in the United States.”
Sarfino spoke next and told the story of the oppression she has faced as a South Sudanese immigrant.
“I cannot tell you a time when I have been in the United States and not felt any kind of discrimination,” Sarfino said. “I cannot tell you a time when I had not felt the pressure of oppression on my shoulders. We [need to] fight for justice [and] for equality.”
Then, Genana spoke. She thanked protestors for coming and discussed dismantling systems of oppression in America.
Newsome then opened the floor for comments and concerns.
One student, Stephanie, spoke about how she was tired of the injustice throughout the country.
“How many of you are tired of waking up and checking Twitter to see how many people are sitting there arguing about how we deserve to be murdered?” Stephanie asked the crowd. “We can’t let it happen anymore.”
Newsome led a moment of silence for the lives lost due to police brutality to close out the protest.
Sarfino said she was happy with the large turnout for the protest, and that the event made her emotional.
“I want a lot of different changes [at Miami],” Sarfino said. “I’m talking about diversity and inclusion being initiated and taken charge of, and I would like to see people doing things that show that Black people matter here; that all students matter no matter sexuality, mind and race.”
Newsome is hopeful there will be more protests in Oxford and that changes will come from these protests.
“There were a lot of people today, and you know what’s great is that the Oxford community is so supportive of us in ways I never would imagine,” Newsome said. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that not only is the [DEI taskforce] held accountable for enacting these changes, but that they don’t take 20 years to do so. We are watching, and we are going to call them out.”