By Maia Vines

On Wednesday, students and faculty gathered at the Staller Center’s steps for a Black Lives Matter protest, many donning black shirts that read “United We Stand, Together We Rise.” Students marched around the academic mall with signs and chants of  “no justice no peace,” showing support for the movement. 

“It’s discouraging to constantly do this and still have racism,” Oreoluwa Adewale, organizer and president of the SBU NAACP, said. “It’s only right for me as a black person to be fighting for other black people, regardless of if they fight for me or not.”

The NAACP’s Stony Brook chapter began planning this campus rally over the summer and partnered with the Black Student Athlete Huddle to organize it for the fall semester. Some participants had not been to a protest this year because of setbacks caused by the pandemic and this was their first.

“We’re all here for the same purpose and being here right now makes me feel more connected to the community,” Angela Velasquez, recent transfer and sociology major, said.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other unarmed Black people who were murdered at the hands of police officers sparked worldwide demonstrations earlier this year. A Minneapolis judge recently dismissed a third-degree murder charge filed against Derek Chauvin, a former officer involved in the killing of 46-year-old Floyd. In the case of Breonna Taylor, a medical worker from Kentucky, a grand jury indicted, former detective, Brett Hankison for “wanton endangerment” in the raid that killed Taylor but no officers were charged for her murder.

“I want to make a change,” said Ricardo Yolas, the Black Student Union’s public relations officer. “These issues that are going on in the country and the world as a whole are issues that I face on a day-to-day basis.”

Several faculty members and student speakers shared experiences and words of encouragement after the march, including Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Judith Brown Clarke and Dr. Jarvis Watson, Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs.

“You have to reimagine what you want this campus to be for people that come after you,” Dr. Watson told students, adding that the turnout brought him hope for the future.