UMass Boston hosts Black Lives Matter Day | New
On November 1, UMass Boston hosted its second annual Black Lives Matter Day. The day’s events included breakout sessions with community leaders, a panel and an opening speech, as well as a mural and commemorative presentation and a call to action. The event was open to everyone.
Students, faculty and staff were able to attend individual events or the entire BLM day. The events were held in the Campus Center ballroom, and attendees were able to attend in person or broadcast the events live. The small group sessions were in person only.
Dr Joseph Cooper, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Black Life and Chair of the Black Lives Matter Day Planning Committee, led the organization of the event.
âThe university recognizes that we celebrate all of humanity, but we also recognize that groups are affected by oppression in different ways,â Dr Cooper said via Zoom when asked why it was important to celebrate. BLM Day at UMass Boston. “And so, celebrate Black Lives Matter [Day] uplifts black humanity and communicates that the unjust deaths that have taken place are not in vain – that we will stand against injustice, that we will unabashedly stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement when it comes to empowerment and human rights of people who identify as Black, and that we understand that the movement does not stop; that we are part of an intergenerational movement for human rights for all â
Dr. Steve Neville, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and BLM Day Planning Committee member, explained why BLM Day is important for students in particular.
âI think students are deeply and deeply hurt by the list of murders and brutality that have been experienced by black women and men – black people – over the centuries that we have spent in the United States – that he [the brutality] continues, and the way it does so beyond the claims of change and progress that have taken place is problematic, âDr. Neville said via Zoom.
Dr Neville also spoke about how this year’s BLM Day will compare to last year’s.
âThis year, since we’re open and we’re back on campus, technically speaking, it has allowed us to be able to communicate with people from the wider community,â said Dr. Neville. . âA lot of the speakers this year are people doing very interesting and powerful things in the community outside of UMass Boston, and that’s something I think is important to me, as a trustee of the ‘university. If we are to become the Boston Public Research University, we must find ways to engage more meaningfully with people and institutions in and around the community.
Dr. Cooper spoke about the importance of also bringing members from outside the UMass Boston community to BLM Day.
âWe work best when we are connected, when we share information and when we work with each other, rather than in silos and in competition with each other,â said Dr. Cooper. âSo it is symbolically and substantively very important for UMass Boston to affirm its commitment to the larger community in which we are located. We are not separate from the community, we are part of the community.
The theme for this year’s event was âEmpowerment Through Collective Leadership,â which Dr. Neville also spoke about.
âIt’s kind of that notion of where I’m strong, you’re weak, and where I’m weak, you’re strong, and we do the job together,â Dr. Neville said. âI think this is a very powerful approach and form of leadership.
Dr. Cooper spoke about the mural and the commemorative presentation that took place.
“The artist who made the fresco last year is actually going to come back and add to the fresco […]”Said Dr Cooper. “[The] new additions to the mural […] [are] a very poignant and powerful testimony to the movement and the purpose of the movement.
In early October, the Black Student Center staged a protest demanding accountability from the university when racist hate speech was written in a few classrooms on campus. Mass media asked Dr Cooper, who attended the protest as a representative of Chancellor Marcelo SuÃ¡rez-Orozco, how BLM Day would stand out as a non-performative anti-racist event.
âIf you look at the topics we cover, I [would] argue that these subjects are not performative at all, âsaid Dr. Cooper. âThese subjects are very serious; they are in many cases a matter of life and death. So the topics we cover are not performative. Everyone on the program has a history and documented record of engaging in serious work to address racial inequalities within their respective spheres of influence, so I don’t think it’s performative at all.
Dr Cooper also mentioned that people who might not be willing to join a protest or take a course in a certain area might be willing to educate themselves at the BLM Day event.
âWill this unique event completely transform the university? Dr. Cooper asked. âAbsolutely not. But I would say no class, event, program will. It’s a set of efforts, including the student protests that are part of a larger conversation and a collective effort. larger to help the university be the best it can be.
When the mass media contacted the BSC regarding their take on BLM Day via email, the BSC responded that the event was mostly organized by faculty and that there was not much that was going on. the students could tell about the event that the staff couldn’t. When asked for further comments, the BSC did not respond.
BLM Day was founded last year by Pilar Nelson, Community Director of the Housing and Residential Life Office, who also served on the planning committee for BLM Day this year.