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#SayHerName raises awareness for black women killed by police

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“Say her name.”

“Shelly Frey.”

“Say her name.”

“Miriam Carey.”

“Say her name.”

“Kayla Moore.”

The list goes on.

Students, faculty and staff gathered in Baker’s Multicultural Center on Thursday evening for #SayHerName, an event co-sponsored by Ohio University’s LGBT Center, Women’s Center and the Unified Sisters. The event was held to raise awareness of police brutality directed toward black women, a topic many feel has not received enough attention.

At a time of great controversy in America, during a renewal of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of #BlackLivesMatter, some have pointed to a crowd of victims going unnoticed.

Many Americans today have become familiar with names like Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice. All are black men killed by police officers. The point of Thursday’s speech was to draw attention to another key feature: they were also all male. Although the #BlackLivesMatter movement has greatly increased the awareness of police brutality against people of color, focus has seemed to circulate around men who have been killed, disregarding the female lives that have been lost as well.

Some might recognize the name of Sandra Bland, who was found dead under Texas police custody after her controversial arrest for failing to signal a lane change. However, more women have died at the hands of police officers, and few of them have received the same amount of attention.

After a short presentation from Dr. Geneva Murray about these women and #SayHerName, OU community members worked together to embroider some victims’ names onto quilts. Once the quilt is completed, it will be placed in the Women’s Center.

While embroidering, people passed around stack of papers, each with the name of a woman killed by police officers or while under police custody. When stapled together, the stack of papers was heavy and flimsy and could be barely held together by staples.

Freshman Ethan Graham, who has not declared his major, was impacted by just how large the list was, saying, “It just makes me angry.”

A bigger part of the night was the quilting. Murray said the intent of the activity was to have people focus..

“This is going to take a lot of concentration, and that’s the point,” Murray said. “We want this to be a time of contemplation where we can be thinking about why it is that we are writing out these names. What meaning is attached to them? What we can do to make sure that once we write their names … How can we continue to take further action?”

While participants stitched, members of the Unified Sisters read aloud the victim’s names and asked the participants to repeat the names back.

The Unified Sisters ran out of time before reading all of the names on the list.

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