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North Texas activists unite to renew focus on Black Lives Matter

A man wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt raises his fist in the air.
Keren Carrión/KERA News
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Activists in North Texas hope Saturday's demonstration will be a new call to action for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Last year, the country saw widespread protests against police violence. Activists say the spotlight on those issues has faded.

In the wake of George Floyd's murder last May by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, use of the Black Lives Matter hashtag skyrocketed on social media.

Nationwide protests against police violence spurred changes in many cities, contributing to cuts to police funding, the removal of confederate statues and a greater focus on diversity and inclusion. A year later, some of that fervor has died down, but Camryn Smith says the fight for justice must continue.

Smith, a student at Southern Methodist University and a member of SMU's Black Lives Matter group, says the movement is more than a hashtag.

“Black Lives Matter is not just a social media trend, and it's not something that’s going to go away,” Smith said.

This Saturday, the Demands for Dallas group will bring together 13 collegiate social justice organizations for a march and peaceful protest. Demonstrators will gather at 3 p.m. at the grassy knoll near Dealey Plaza and march to Dallas City Hall. Smith says the goal is to bring renewed awareness to the inequalities that Black communities continue to face.

“There are people out there who are still in need of help," Smith said. "Police brutality is still very much so a thing."

Smith is a native of Frisco, where Black residents make up about 8% of the population. She says it has always been her goal to create a safe space for Black students.

“The past four years have been pretty trying for the Black community,” Smith said. “I have always wanted to be around like-minded people that have grown up the same way as I."

Now a junior at SMU, Smith says her goal is to inspire and lead future generations through her activism.

“We deserve to vocalize what we believe is right,” she said. "I want especially the youth to know that we’re still continuing to fight."

Got a tip? Email Solomon Wilson at swilson@kera.org. You can follow Solomon on Twitter @SolomonSeesIt.

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