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“Say Their Names”
December 17, 2016
The last assembly of the day in the Roberts Dubbs Auditorium revolved around the Black Lives Matter movement and the deaths of Black Americans for which no convictions were made.
To the start the assembly, junior Carolyn Parker-Fairbin performed a poem about the history of lynchings and unjustified deaths of Black people in the United States and her personal struggle to make a positive impact in society.
After the poem, many students and faculty members took to the stage, one at a time, each wearing the name of a deceased Black person around their neck. First was Emmett Till, followed by Sandra Bland, Deeniquia Dodds, Trayvon Martin, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Yvette Smith, Zella Ziona and Eric Garner. After each name and the story behind each was read, the group recited the names of the victim in unison.
Junior Anthony Saunders then entered the stage and expressed his concern that he and other African-Americans may meet the same fate as these victims. The group then said his name in solidarity.
The next part of the assembly was an informational presentation given by seniors Maya Morris and Nick Lewitt. They referred to the practice of redlining by insurance companies in order to avoid selling insurance to Black neighborhoods, the school-to-prison pipeline and the higher likelihood of Black students to be suspended.
They also presented a video of former Republican National Committee chairman and adviser to President Ronald Reagan, Lee Atwater, in which he spoke about the methods that the Reagan administration used to marginalize African-Americans after the Civil Rights Movement.
Morris and Lewitt ended their presentation by affirming the legitimacy of the Black Lives Matter movement. They used various analogies to explain why the movement makes sense.
Lewitt said that it would be ludicrous to enter a cancer ward at the hospital and shout, “All illnesses matter,” referencing the “All lives matter” or “blue lives matter” movements that have arisen in response to Black Lives Matter movement.
When the presentation ended, the faculty and students who wore the names of Black victims of violence returned to the stage to a standing ovation from the audience.