#BlackLivesMatter Speaker Keynotes Social Justice to Crowded Audience

By Jacquelyn Carter
Senior News Reporter

 

Handout#BlackLivesMatter co-founder and activist Opal Tometi spoke to the Texas State community in an event hosted by the Texas State Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion and Student Affairs as a part of their 2016 social justice series.

Tometi gave a keynote speech that covered multiple topics including how she became involved in the movement, the steps behind creating a multicultural democracy, capitalism and more.

A protest of the event was scheduled an hour before the speech, where a letter written to bring conservatives together claimed the black lives matter movement promotes a violent message and that Texas State University crossed the line by hosting this event. Tometi said the message of the movement is clear and that in her line of work people often work to obscure it.

“I actually don’t think black lives matter is controversial,” Tometi said. “I think there is no controversy in asserting your humanity, your dignity and fighting for your rights. I think that is actually noble and what we should all aspire to do.”

Tometi spoke about solidarity not being transactional but transformational. She believes everyone needs to understand why they are deeply involved in this movement, emphasizing if we do not focus on the root of the problem, we are doing ourselves a disservice.

She also challenged the audience to act like black lives matter and not just talk about issues, but also allow their practice to show what they believe.

Tometi said it is important to move away from talking about our individual stories, focus on the systematic forces working against the movement and to remember that justice will be obtained.

“We have to know that justice isn’t inevitable, that we need all hands on deck, we need a number of different strategies, and we must recognize that in fact,” Tometi said. “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

Following the speech, Tometi took questions and stayed for a few minutes to greet and take pictures with students.

Students like Russell Boyd II, Texas State sophomore and executive chair of the Talented Tenth Project, enjoyed the event and hopes the speech will impact black students.

“Her keynote will give that fire that’s needed in order for us to unite and empower one another so that we can do positive things and we can uplift one another so that we can progress as black students in a predominately white institution,” said Boyd.

Texas State senior Ely Doyle said what they believe white or white passing attenders biggest take away from the event should be.

“Our lives are not on the line in same way that black folks lives are on the line,” Doyle said. “If we actually want to work towards justice, we need to put our lives on the line in the sense that we are not going to get shot so we need to show up and we need to get angry.”

Tometi said the first step for anyone wanting to work within the movement is to join an organization that works within the community, stressing that there is power in numbers and an individual will not change the system.

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