Sophomore Francesca Downs worries every day that a police officer will stop her mother on the road and shoot her.
“That shouldn’t be a fear of mine,” Downs said. “That’s not right.”
Downs spoke to a crowd of over 50 students and faculty gathered on Saturday afternoon in front of Old Main for a Black Lives Matter protest led by ABLE.
This protest occurred three days after the anti-Trump protest that was held on Wednesday in response to the election results.
Protesters met at Old Main at 1 p.m. and marched through downtown Galesburg. They carried signs, some of which read: “Stand Up,” “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe.” Students also led chants including: “No justice, no peace,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Stand-up, don’t shoot.”
During the march, some people driving by honked their horns, gave a thumbs up or raised their fist. One shop owner had a cooler of sodas put out and offered them to the protestors.
After the march, they gathered back on the south steps of Old Main to have an open mic for those who wanted to speak. ABLE leaders started their speeches by thanking those present for coming and supporting the movement.
“The purpose of our protests and our marches and our demonstrations is to get the word out, to start these conversations. But now the conversation have started. It’s not a secret that a lot of America is racist,” senior Ashaunti Roby said.
Director of Software Development and System Integration Victor Davis ‘86 discussed how he took part in protests against Apartheid in the ‘80s and that no one wanted to hear the protests then, either.
“Twenty, 30 years later, we’re fighting for the same things,” Davis said.
Students also addressed discussions on social media that they said tone policed black students for not being more open to engaging in dialogue with Trump supporters.
“I just wanted to address some of the tone policing that has been going on lately, especially in light of our last rally,” junior Lexi Toney said, referring to the anti-Trump rally on Wednesday. “We are not obligated to move about in a way that protects white feelings.”
Many speakers referenced Tuesday’s election and pointed out that the system of racism is independent of who is president.
Visiting Instructor of Africana Studies Kwame Zulu Shabazz explained that the conversation needed to be broader than individual politicians. He explained how the systematic oppression of African-Americans needed to be addressed.
“No dictator on this planet has dictated more than the United States government,” Shabazz said. “This is the opportune time, because we have confusion, to fundamentally change America.”
Students also explained how the election had impacted their families.
Senior Shakisha Grays talked to her niece, who goes to school in Galesburg, who was told by her teacher to not be upset by the results of the election. Grays told her, “Don’t silence yourself just because someone else wants you to be silent.”
In addition, students spoke about how the election had brought them awareness about their positions of privilege as non-black peoples.
Junior Yeomin Kim said that non-black people of color needed to recognize their own anti-Blackness.
“I feel like sometimes non-black people of color will understand themselves as less complicit in the system of impression because they are not white and because we also experience oppression. We should be calling each other out.”
The protest ended with ABLE leaders again thanking participants for joining the protest and called for them to fight oppression in their everyday lives.
“We’re going to get ourselves through this oppression, not anyone else,” Roby said.