Black Lives Matter, and everyone at FSU knows it

Ryan O'Connell / THE GATEPOST

In celebration of Black History Month, a banner stating Black Lives Matter was signed by dozens of students and then displayed in the lobby of the McCarthy Center starting on Feb. 22.

The idea and signing was organized by the Student Government Association (SGA), and the banner was supported by FSU’s Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE), as well as other groups on campus, including Black Student Union.

Senior Emma Sullivan, vice president of SGA and a member of the Student Advisory Council (SAC), shared some of the reasons she believes the banner was necessary to express the feeling of community on FSU’s campus. 

Sullivan said one of SGA’s goals in helping to create the banner was to “celebrate our students of color,” and to show support for them on campus. She said this was especially important given the number of hate crimes that occurred last year.

She added one of the biggest impacts she hoped to see from the banner was students feeling supported by their peers after seeing it and knowing “they belong at FSU.” 

Sullivan said she hoped the banner would “show Black students have a valued place at FSU,” and it would communicate SGA’s support for them. She also said it was helpful for students to feel accepted and welcome at their University.

“Our goal was to show our support to Black students and to make them feel welcomed, encouraged, and valued,” she added.

Sullivan said while she is graduating in May, she hopes SGA will continue to help facilitate events like the banner signing so that future students feel seen and supported. 

She said it felt “meaningful” to see a physical banner in person in the McCarthy Center, and the signatures helped show “Black students that they have a community of peers on this campus who support them.”

Sullivan said she hoped the banner would have a positive influence on the campus community. “I hope that when students see the outpouring of support from their peers that they will feel safer and happier on this campus.”

Nashani Swain, a freshman, was one of the first people to sign the banner. She said she signed the banner during some downtime while she was staffing a career services table.

“Well, I saw that it was a ‘Black Lives Matter’ banner, and I’m Black, so why wouldn’t I want to sign it? I think that Framingham State – from what I’ve seen – they do a really good job including everybody,” Swain said.

“It’s like, why not? A lot of things are happening in this world. It made me feel included that I had my name on something in the school,” she said. 

Swain said she thought it was a great idea to put the banner up in the lobby because of the traffic and she notices people admiring it every day. 

Swain said she hopes the banner helps contribute to a more anti-racist community at FSU, and that it inspires students to step in if people are having trouble or are being treated unfairly. 

“I hope that if they see something they don’t like that’s happening to Black students on campus, they choose to involve themselves and make it better,” she said. 

Swain said the event was overall very positive for the community and Black students, but was interested to see how the campus could grow from here. 

Eric Nguyen, the director of the CIE, said he hoped students would feel “pride, commitment, and challenge” when passing the banner.

“I want our Black students to feel seen and valued for who they are, and that they feel the support and love of this community. We all should arrive at a point where we believe what our Black students have always known – that their lives matter,” he said. 

“We all have work to do to address racism,” he said, adding every member of campus has a role in upholding the “institution’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.”

Nguyen said he sees the banner as “a way to challenge those who might choose to exercise their right to free speech in ways that are harmful and destructive to a community and its members.”

Nguyen highlighted the March 30 event in the 2022 Olivia A. Davidson Voices of Color series hosted by the CIE and Arts & Ideas featuring Sy Stokes, which aims to discuss racial incidents on campus, and how members of the community can begin to respond to these actions.