Umoja program creates an unstoppable buzz


Miracle Jones [left] and Alisia Whirley [right] lead the audience in an open discussion. Students and staff weigh in on the heavy subject about what “Black Lives Matter” mean to them. Photo credit: Briana Hicks

Briana Hicks, Campus Life Editor

Students and staff were invited into the Black Lives Matter event with the smell of freshly cooked bacon and eggs.

Music created a positive ambiance with songs from various artists, such as “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, “Be Free” by J Cole, and “I Can” by Nas.

Thursday, Feb. 26 saw a room full of people joined Umoja students during their event in honor of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Umoja students put together a statistic display for the event. The display showcased notable victims like Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Photo credit: Briana Hicks

The Dean of Liberal Arts, David Fabish, welcomed everyone, and then handed the reigns over to hosts Alisa Whirley and Miracle Jones.

Whirley stated, “I thought it would’ve been a good idea just to have a discussion what it means to everybody and enlighten people about things we don’t know.”

Jones led the event by starting off with a poem called “And it Still is News” by a historical journalist, Marcus Garvey.

Umoja student, Miracle Jones stands before the audience. She recites a poem called “And it Still is News” by Marcus Garvey. Photo credit: Briana Hicks

Each Umoja member contributed to the event by presenting different things to the audience.

Whirley enlightened guest by explaining what the movement was about and who created it. She expressed that the basic meaning of “Black Lives Matter” was the deprivation of basic human life and dignity.

Christy Angeles, spoke about celebrities who took a public stance in support of the movement.

She acknowledged Lamar’s Grammy performance and how it tackled hatred and racism.

Angeles also highlighted another famous artist, Beyonce, who performed her new song “Formation” during the Super Bowl halftime show. She addressed how her attire honored a famous radical political group, the Black Panthers, while addressing police brutality.

Toward the end of the event, the question was raised, what does “Black Lives Matter” mean to you?

The discussion drew a lot of emotions, as people expressed their different views and opinions of the movement itself.

Umoja students display their thoughts on what “Black Lives Matter” mean to them in a presentation. The presentation ran while people gathered in. Photo credit: Briana Hicks

Veronica Herrera, student counselor, was one of the few who chose to be extremely vocal about her thoughts.

She said, “For me […] I feel energized that we are beginning to have the conversations that need to take place on this campus.

“You know, students have power. Their voices have power. The fact that they’re taking the lead and organizing this is exciting,” Herrera said.

Before the event came to a close, the Umoja students showed two very powerful clips.

The first, was a spoken word called “Oscars” by comedian Nick Cannon. The last clip was a movie called “Chi-raq” directed by famous film director Spike Lee.

The room was in awe of the powerful messages behind both clips that touched upon to extremely big subjects; racial discrimination in Hollywood and black on black crime.

Student counselor and facilitator for the Umoja program, Dr. Sheila Hill, was overjoyed by the end of the event.

Hill stated, “I am greatly impressed. The students are taking a leadership class and I can see what we talk about in that class on display with all of the events they’ve done.

“They are really starting to find their voice. I was very impressed with the manner in which they carried the program, and the thought that went into creating the program,” she acknowledged with pride.

Once the event came to a close, people left in heavy discussions, caring on about the movement and it’s importance in each of their lives.

Whirley admitted that it was a good idea to have a discussion about what the movement meant to everyone and that she was excited about the turn out.

She said, “My goal was to not only inform people, but have an awareness and just have people personally think about [the movement].

“What is it that they’re doing? What are they standing for? What is it that they can do to change it?”