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Students Lead Black Lives Matter March At SMU Demanding Racial Justice, Equality On Campus

A group of protesters holding up signs at SMU.
Lauren Rangel
/
KERA News
Despite rain soaking through their posters, demonstrators at SMU this weekend chanted things like "no justice, no peace" as they marched.

After a summer of protests calling for racial equality and an end to police brutality, the same calls for change reached Southern Methodist University's campus just as the fall semester began. This weekend, hundreds of students, faculty and community members joined student organization BLM@SMU to advocate that Black lives matter.

Despite the rain soaking through their posters, demonstrators chanted together "no justice, no peace" and "hands up, don't shoot" as they marched.

Photo of hundreds of protesters looking at a young person speaking through a bullhorn as they march for Black Lives Matter at SMU.
Lauren Rangel
The march comes after the Association of Black Students at SMU sent a list of demands to University President Gerald Turner in early June.

SMU student Tyne Dickson, who organized the march, said she wanted to provide an opportunity for students to participate in the movement, change campus culture and uplift Black voices. For Dickson, leading the march was surreal.

"I remember my freshman year, walking into the first Black board meeting, and we were wearing Black Lives Matter shirts on campus, and it was like we were a target. Now, we have hundreds of people wearing Black Lives Matter shirts," she said. "I'm really proud of my team and everyone who came out. We did that!"

The march comes after the Association of Black Students at SMU sent a list of demands to University President Gerald Turner in early June. The organization created the demands to increase diversity, stop discrimination and build an inclusive environment on campus. Over the summer, the university announced that they plan to have a response by the end of September.

Photo of SMU student Tyne Dickson wearing a face mask pulled down and looking out at the crowd as she holds a bullhorn.
Lauren Rangel
Tyne Dickson pauses to look out at the cheering crowd of protesters.

Turner had a virtual meeting with student leaders to discuss the requests, but the organization said it hasn’t seen any action. Now, exactly three months later, Dickson said she is tired of waiting for SMU to make their move.

"Why are our demands not being met? We did not ask for a chief diversity officer, and we did not ask for summer Zoom meetings, we asked for you to answer our demands," Dickson said to a crowd of cheering protesters at the event this weekend. "We are fighting for action, and until the people in power at SMU decide to take action, it looks like it will be us."

This year isn't the first time students have asked SMU to act. In 1969 and 2015, students put together a similar list of demands intended to increase diversity.

Photo of many protesters carrying hand-made signs at SMU Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Lauren Rangel
A large number of demonstrators carried hand-made signs.

Laurence Lundy said he attended the march because he wants this to be the last set of demands.

"Five years later, we are fighting for the same thing that I saw seniors who graduated were fighting for," Lundy said. "So, until SMU gives us justice, there will be no peace on this campus."

The protesters cheers got even louder when cars honked to show their support as they marched. For junior Maya Carr, it was an empowering moment and a hopeful sign of change.

"I think it's showing how much people do support this movement,” she said. There really is strength in numbers.”

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