MU Black Studies to host event reflecting on 2015 protests

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MU’s Black Studies Department will host an event Monday to reflect on the race-related protests that took place in fall 2015.

“Two Years Later…” will start at 5 p.m. in Jesse Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Student Union with a showing of Spike Lee’s “2 Fists Up,” a documentary that takes a closer look at the protests. The event is co-sponsored by the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center and the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.

The idea to host the event came from wanting to continue reflecting on what happened after the Black Studies Department hosted a similar event last year, said Stephanie Shonekan, who chairs the department.

“ Last year we had a ‘One Year After’ event where we sort of brought everybody back together and reflected on what went on the year before, so we figured we’d make that an annual thing,” Shonekan said. “I think it’s always good to reflect on the past as a way of thinking about what steps we need to move into the future.”

At last year’s event, the department brought in professor and author Marc Lamont Hill, but this year the speech will be given by MU student Marshall Allen, a senior studying political science and black studies. The event will be an opportunity to share the narrative uninterrupted.

“What we do on Monday will be our chance to reclaim our time, reclaim our narrative, and remind ourselves that what happened was actually a good thing,” Shonekan said.

It’s important to step back and discuss what happened and decide if the proper steps have been taken and what steps still need to be taken, she said. It’s all part of remembering and reflecting.

“I think commemorating major moments is always good because it shows us to be the true scholars that we say we are — because it’s OK to look back,” Shonekan said. “We don’t erase that. We embrace it. We celebrate it.”

There was a good turnout at last year’s event, Shonekan said, and the hope is for even more people to come out this year. She wants different kinds of people — staff, faculty and community members as well as students — to come to the event and leave with an understanding of the positive that came from the protests.

“I would hope that attendees walk away with the assurance that what happened in 2015 was actually a good thing,” Shonekan said, “and that they walk away understanding that we are the authors of our own narrative.”

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