Black Lives Matter vigil held at Oregon State University

Sarah Weaver News Contributor

Community members gather on campus to remember lives, reflect

On Monday, Feb. 29, Oregon State University students, faculty, staff and members of the Corvallis community gathered in the Student Experience Center Plaza on the OSU campus to pay their respects to those who lost their lives to police brutality and discriminatory mindsets with a candlelight vigil.

The vigil, put on by the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center and the OSU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was the culminating event in a series of events throughout February to celebrate Black History Month.

Those in attendance gathered in the SEC Plaza and lit candles. A podium was set up at one end of the plaza with a podium and a microphone that was open to the crowd. People listened to students recite poetry and discuss their experiences with police brutality and discrimination.

Multiple student speakers, some associated with the Black Cultural Center and some not, went one-by-one to the podium and listed names of black people who were killed by police including Sandra Bland and Michael Brown Jr.

Sophomore business major Erica Baldwin discussed her personal experience with police brutality.

According to Baldwin, her father was pulled over for a traffic violation and was eventually arrested. After a night of not knowing where he was, Baldwin learned that he had been arrested for “driving while black”.

Her father came home with multiple injuries including a broken cheekbone and a broken rib.

According to Baldwin, the next step for those who want to get involved with the #BlackLivesMatter movement is to continue to be an advocate for those who are discriminated against.

“Be an advocate in your own community, in Oregon State or whatever people’s’ hometown is. Be an advocate, don’t just brush it off,” Baldwin said

Baldwin admired the event’s turnout and thought that as a whole the event went well.

“I feel like it was a good representation of the people who represent the #BlackLivesMatter movement – I’m just really happy that people support this issue in our community, ” Baldwin said.

Other people at the event talked about their experiences with discrimination from the police, and ways this can change.

“If we don’t love each other enough this will continue,” Tarrance Harris, the assistant director of the Black Cultural Center said, addressing the crowd from the podium at the south end of the plaza.

OSU President Ed Ray was in the audience as well. Ray went straight to the vigil after addressing students and OSU community members at the university’s first quarterly town hall meeting just minutes before the vigil began.

Ray stated that he loved seeing the OSU community come together and show engagement in social justice issues.

“I think it’s great,” Ray said. “I think young people today are pretty impatient and they want to make the world a better place and we have to work together.”

Ray said he came to show support and solidarity for the student body.

“I wanted to be here, I saw what the event was about and I wanted to participate and listen,” Ray said.

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