Northwestern creates 'Black Lives Matter' committee

The university’s Center for African American History assembled a 15-person committee to keep the “Black Lives Matter” movement active on campus.

The committee plans to host a teach-in and has created a Tumblr page titled “Suffocate @ NU.”

Northwestern University’s Center for African American History has established a 15-person task force to promote the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

The “Black Lives Matter” hashtag—an anti-racism call to action that flooded social media amid the tension in Ferguson, Mo.—inspired a group of NU students and faculty members to form a committee to keep the movement active on their campus, according to the Daily Northwestern.

African American Studies Professor Barnor Hesse said it was “glaringly obvious” that NU needed to respond to the discussion concerning racism in the U.S. since several other universities had already joined the national conversation.

“We haven’t done that yet, so it was an opportunity for Northwestern faculty and students to engage with this issue through a teach-in, which says something about what we think about these things,” said Hesse.

Throughout February the “Black People Making History Committee” will organize a number of events including a teach-in Tuesday where faculty members will join a panel discussion on racial issues and deliver their own presentations.

“Working on this project, having that institutional support from Professor Bryant, from Professor Hesse and other post-docs and graduate students who are involved is really, really crucial,” NU senior Sarah Watson told the Daily Northwestern.

In addition to the teach-in, the committee has promoted an art campaign concentrated on the word “Breathe”— a take on the “I can’t breathe” phrase uttered by Eric Garner during his arrest shortly before his death—which NU students have shared social media.

Watson says the art campaign explains the “idea of oppressed people not being able to breathe, black people not being able to breathe, and feeling like oppression is this suffocating force, is present throughout history and black history.”

The committee also created a Tumblr page titled “Suffocating @ NU” which encourages students to post screenshots of racist comments posted online or on the anonymous social media app, Yik Yak.

“One Northwestern does not mean we are all on One Page [sic],” states the group’s Tumblr account. “Let’s stop discussing racism without acknowledging the racists in the room.”

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