Correction: This article has been updated to clarify several aspects of the rally. A previous version named Adams as the first African-American graduate of OU, as opposed to the first graduate from the journalism school. Additionally, Sarah Garlington was misidentified as speaking for SURJ. We apologize for the errors.
Another day, another protest. This time the topic of outrage is Black Lives Matter in Appalachia at the side portico of Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. The evening was filled with personal accounts of racism, hope for the future and even an a capella performance.
The first speaker was Ada Woodson Adams, the widow of the first African-American graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Alvin C. Adams. She advocated for the continuance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We chose to come back to our home where we were once chased away,” Adams said.
She continued to talk about her husband’s namesakes — including Adams Hall and a scholarship from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism — and her lifetime of discrimination and activism.
“In my lifetime I have been labeled colored, negro, African-American, Black American, person of color and more. I grew up in a racist and segregated world. I marched for civil rights in the 1960’s in the south and walked in the white man’s shoes all my life,” Adams said.
“Black Lives Matter is a shout out to look at a group that has been systematically and fundamentally disenfranchised in America. Anyone who says ‘white lives matter, too’ are speaking from privilege.”
Adams finished her speech with a raised fist and the iconic phrase, “Black Power.”
Rev. Deborah Woolsey of the Church of the Good Shepherd spoke about her experience with being inspired by black people and how she quietly fights intolerance and supports anti-discriminatory businesses.
“I let my money do the talking,” Woosley explained.
Beth Amoriya, member of the Athens chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) also spoke, and encouraged attendees to join the group to stay involved. Several others also gave speeches.
The evening was finished with a song performed by Megan Cameron, a singer in the local band called Amethystone, which has themes that echo those of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“History cannot be ignored. It shows us a pattern,” she sang.