The crowd grew to more than 100 at the intersection of Maple and Spring streets as students gathered to protest racism and police brutality on Thursday, April 22.
Sophomores Nigel McKinney and Darius Moss Jr. organized the protest via Instagram and drew a group that stood across the street from the Armstrong Student Center for nearly two hours, speaking and chanting.
“We’re here today to remind people that Black lives still matter,” McKinney said through a megaphone as people congregated at 4 p.m.
The protest came in the wake of the death of Ma’Khia Bryant, who was killed by a Columbus police officer on Tuesday, as well as the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial.
“I just hope that we can carry the message forward,” McKinney said after the protest.
Moss Jr., a mechanical engineering major, hopes the need for protests like theirs doesn’t last much longer.
“Change,” he said. “We really want change to happen … it starts with us, the people, everyone saying something.”
They invited many students to step up and speak, including Student Body President Jannie Kamara and Associated Student Government’s incoming Secretary for Diversity & Inclusion Vada Stephens.
“I’m tired,” Kamara said, after waving off applause. “I’m tired of having to show up.”
She spoke about the pain of hearing about Bryant’s death at the hands of a police officer and wanting to see improvement from Miami regarding issues of race.
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“I’m disappointed in this university,” she said, “and just this entire year in my role, and I want to see the university do better.”
Kamara said afterward that she felt excited and refreshed to see younger students taking initiative and being organizers in the community.
“I hope to continue seeing that in the future,” she said. “Students are the movers and drivers of this university.”
Stephens urged the crowd to continue showing up for demonstrations and similar causes.
“We cannot let up,” he said afterward, “but must continue to stay present, continue to move in consistency.”
Stephens said he plans to use his new role to further Miami’s efforts in educating students about advocating for marginalized communities and creating an inclusive environment.
Near the end of the event, Moss Jr. told protesters not to drop issues of race in their private lives.
“As a Black person, we feel way more uncomfortable when we are pulled over by the police,” Moss Jr. said. “So something as little as a conversation … is nothing compared to the uncomfortability that you feel when your life is at risk.”
McKinney’s parting message for the crowd was to continue advocating when they left the street corner.
“We are the people who show up,” McKinney said. “We have to carry the message to the people who didn’t. We have to let them know that Black lives matter.”