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OU NAACP rallies for awareness about controversy in Ferguson

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“We have a duty to fight. We have a duty to win. We must love and protect one and another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.  We have a duty to fight. We have a duty to win. We must love and protect one and another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

As the chants of over 75 Ohio University students filled the Scripps Amphitheater, a rally sponsored by OU’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, came to a close. Themed “Black Lives Matter,” the Labor Day rally showcased speeches and performances that addressed the issue of systematic racism, both nationally and locally.

“It is our duty, as students, as young people, to stand up. They have passed the torch to us. At OU, it’s our responsibility to not only affect Ohio’s community, but the Athens community and the college community because there are problems that we are facing as minorities on campus, and that needs to be addressed. People need to understand,” the Co-President of OU’s chapter of NAACP Jeffrey Billingsly said.

Richard Moses, a member of OU’s chapter of NAACP, said he wanted the audience to know that racism still exists on campus, and so he shared a story to exemplify this issue.

“Thursday night, I’m walking home from a party, just walking through College Green,” Moses said. “Two white men come up to us, and scream out to us ‘Hey you, hey you!’  So we are like, ‘What’s wrong? What? What’s up?’ We just kept walking. [They said] ‘Wait, I’m talking to you. I’m talking to you. Sit. Stay’

“He just said I’m a dog. He said I’m an animal. But that’s not what we are. We are people just like everyone else.”

This treatment is not uncommon, Moses later added.

“I’ve been called the n-word multiple times,” he said. “A lot of stuff that goes on that only we see, unfortunately. And then when we try to scream for help, or say this stuff is happening, we are portrayed like it’s all in our heads. The majority says ‘Oh, there is no problem.’ But there really is a problem”

The rally featured spoken word artists, a performance of “A Change Is Gonna Come” an original song by Sam Cooke and a dance performance by the Athens Black Contemporary Dancers. Members of NAACP also shared stories of African Americans who have lost their lives in a police shooting, including Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and Mike Brown.

The shooting of Mike Brown, who was unarmed, by police in Ferguson, Mo., and the ensuing riots and protests, was the motivation for the rally, said Co-President of OU’s chapter of the NAACP Shambrion Treadwell. But they did not want the stories of others who have also lost their lives to be forgotten.

“We didn’t want the rally just to be for Mike Brown,” Treadwell said. “It’s for everyone who has been in the news. Trayvon Martin. Oscar Grant. We didn’t want any of their names to be forgotten because of Mike Brown right now. And we don’t want people to forget about Mike Brown. There’s a lot of hype around Ferguson, but once the hype dies, who’s still going to be talking about black lives? Are they still going to matter?”

 

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