In honor of Black History month, several events took place this past week as part of Black Lives Matter: The Revival. The week started with a reintroduction to the issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement with a discussion that allowed those in attendance to voice their thoughts. The goals and misconceptions of the movement were discussed along with the importance of committed allies. To show support and solidarity, students were encouraged to wear all black, along with “Black Lives Matter” buttons that were handed out at the events.
Student Body Vice President, Tim Hussey, helped coordinate the events of the week. Hussey said the idea for the week came out of a similar series that took place last year.
“We wanted it to center around black lives still matter, especially in this post-election season,” Hussey said, “and on our campus we wanted it to be a reminder that black lives still matter to us.”
An artist reception featuring Photographer Micah Mackenzie followed the reintroduction discussion. Mackenzie said he acts as an advocate in his own way by raising his voice about the issues that need to be confronted. His photographs display the beauty and power of individuals while also making pointed statements.
“For Black History Month I wanted to show a little bit more of the person and connect to the past,” Mackenzie said, “and also remind them of the kings and queens they are.”
White allies also played a crucial role in the discussion and action of the week. The panel discussion that took place on Wednesday titled, “From Allyship to Advocacy: Repurposing Your Privilege,” focused on how those who support the movement from the outside can positively encourage change for those being directly affected.
Briana Joseph, an alumnus of UNC Asheville and current intern with the University’s multicultural department said the event was well received. Joseph said those on the panel represented a mix of on-campus and off-campus resources and gave good advice on how to achieve long term advocacy.
“Some of the follow-up comments I heard is that we need to be doing this kind of thing regularly on campus,” Joseph said.
Fellowship was another important part of the week. Three meals were facilitated by different organizations during the week, which encouraged students and faculty to come together and enjoy open discussion, music, and even dance.
The week acted as a first step in reviving the issues and resolutions of the Black Lives Matter movement on campus and beyond, but it is only the beginning. Joseph said that after this week is over there will definitely be discussions on how to keep the momentum going and move forward in the spirit of what this week represented.