By Asia McGill
THE month of February means the honoring of Black History, and members of Rider’s Black Student Union (BSU) began the celebration with the raising of a Black Lives Matter flag outside of the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) on Feb. 1.
The ceremony began with junior global studies major and BSU President Kayla McIntyre, who spoke about the recent death of Tyre Nichols.
On the night of Jan. 7, 29-year-old Nichols was injured after a physical altercation with multiple Memphis police officers, and died of his injuries three days later. Nichols’ death has sparked national outrage.
“We call for justice for Tyre. The numerous men and women, Black men and women that have been brutally maimed and murdered at the hand of a police system that systematically oppresses minorities,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre invited the crowd into a moment of silence before her closing statement: “May his memory be a blessing, and may his family receive comfort during this time.”
For the BSU, McIntyre works alongside junior vice president Corrine Walton-Macaulay, junior public relations chair Naa’san Carr and sophomore member at large Faith Robinson-Hughes.
Walton-Macaulay, a health science major, is “focused on making the environment [Rider] more inclusive for other students,” and to be the “anchor” she wishes she had as a student of color.
“I have chosen to use my experience as a Black woman, and as a student here to connect with other students of color,” Walton-Macaulay said.
Film and television major Robinsion-Hughes desired for her speech not to be about her personal experiences as a student of color, but what the Black Lives Matter movement means to her.
“As a community, as much as we celebrate our triumphs…We must remember the hardships of Black Americans,” Robinson-Hughes said.
The following speech was presented by Carr, a political science major that expressed what being a part of BSU meant to him.
“Black Student Union has not only enhanced our culture among Rider’s campus, but also allows us to create that safe space, and have a home where we can feel represented,” Carr said.
Carr emphasized in his speech that BSU is an organization that aims to help all students, and that “regardless of how challenging our lives may be, to not give up.”
McIntyre returned to the podium, and shared some of her experiences being a Black woman studying in the field of education.
“Being the only Black girl in my class, I feel like all eyes are on me because of my appearance… sometimes I feel like the ‘token Black girl’ in the education department,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre concludes her speech with a “call for transparency,” and reminds the crowd that though the raising of the flag is important, there is still a long way to go for “efforts of inclusivity.”
All members exited the podium as their speeches concluded and stood before the pole that would wave a new flag, a black flag.
McIntyre attached the Black Lives Matter flag to the pole outside of the BLC, and pulled the rope as it waved in the overcast sky.
If you are interested in contacting a member of BSU or want to be informed about upcoming events, they can be reached through Instagram @RiderBSU.