Pro Black: EMU Students Gather To Protest Racism

Hundreds of Eastern Michigan University students came together to protest racism on campus, where most of them carried ‘Pro Black’ signs.

In the wake of a racist graffiti sprayed on one of Eastern Michigan University’s campuses, a great number of students and faculty members gathered outside Ford Hall on the university’s campus the next day, as they protested racism. Most of the students carried ‘Pro Black’ signs, indicating that Blacks were not to suffer any form of racial discrimination. We have got more information on the event from the sources below:

Detroit Free Press

Hundreds of Eastern Michigan University students and faculty held a rally Wednesday in protest of racist graffiti sprayed on a campus building Monday, only a month after similar incidents on the Ypsilanti campus.

The graffiti on Ford Hall has been removed.

Outside the building Wednesday, faculty organized a rally to promote unity and understanding on a campus that students say is too often riled by racism. According to the website, EMU’s student body is 19.3% black.

The rally came after students organized an overnight sit-in at the school’s Student Center, staying in the building from 10 p.m. Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday. University police told the students they risked expulsion or order discipline for violating the student code of conduct, which prohibits students from being inside closed buildings — a move that EMU history professor Mark Higbee called “a rank absurdity” because the protest was peaceful.

Pro Black

“Turning a protest into a police matter is always a mistake,” Higbee told the gathering in a plaza where a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stands.

Students and faculty chanted “Black lives matter,” and “Who’s house? Our house.” They held Black Lives Matters signs and others that said Pro Black and “White Silence is the National Anthem.”

Christine Neufeld, a professor of medieval literature, said faculty organized the rally to show students that they’re “committed to making this an inclusive campus.” She said the faculty will work with students and university administrators to bring that about. “It will not be business as usual,” She added.

The graffiti discovered Monday morning marked the third time this school year that racist sayings have been spray-painted on buildings at EMU. In the first incident in September, “KKK” and racial slurs were discovered on walls of King Hall. That incident sparked a protest with more than 150 students marching to the home of university President James Smith. See more


Professors are planning a teach-in on topics related to racism and social justice on Nov. 14, the art department is coordinating the design of a mural in McKenney Hall to illustrate the importance of diversity, and the School of Social Work is hosting a social justice series, among other upcoming events.

“I am teaching research methods, so there’s not a lot of place to discuss Black Lives Matter,” said Perry Silverschanz, a social work faculty member. “But what I am doing in class is telling my white students and my students who appear to be white – regardless of how they identify – that if they don’t make themselves visibly known as an ally, they will be seen as not an ally. … Why black lives matter is because when we’re in a neighborhood, we care about everyone in the neighborhood. If one house is on fire, we go put that fire out.”

Amid the diverse perspectives shared at the rally by people of various races, there was a consistent message: these types of racist messages will not be tolerated on campus.

Pro Black

“This is a very diverse campus. It’s rich, it’s a blessing, and it’s a gift to all of us. Get it together,” said Sandy Norton, a retired professor who taught at EMU for 27 years. “We have to talk to each other. We have to be with each other. I may sound really stupid to say Eastern Michigan University is a family, but it is a family because it’s my family.”

Several white students who held ‘Pro Black‘ signs and spoke during the rally acknowledged the privilege afforded them by their race, and they said they wanted to offer their support to their black peers without speaking over their message. See more

Pro Black

This is great to see, a culturally diverse group of people coming together for one main aim: standing against racism. The Pro Black signs carried by some white students, as a gesture to show support for students of color is commendable. We all have to stand together and fight against the disease called racism.

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