Northwestern University raised a Black Lives Matter flag over the school’s center this week ahead of a two-week program on race relations and the African-American experience in the United States.
Danielle Harris, a communications major at Northwestern, said the decision to fly the Black Lives Matter flag was inspired by the University of Vermont’s student government’s decision to fly a similar flag outside the school’s community center.
“After seeing that … the immediate question is, ‘If the University of Vermont can do that, then how come Northwestern can’t do that?’” Harris said.
A two-week campus program on the Black Lives Movement and the African-American experience began on Tuesday with the raising of the flag over the Norris University Center.
Harris said she and other students began reaching out to administrators at the beginning of Fall Quarter to organize events that cultivate dialogue around “the statement ‘Black Lives Matter,’ the greater Black Lives Matter movement, and the state of Black lives within our country,” according to the initiative’s Facebook event. These efforts resulted in “Black Lives Matter: a Northwestern dialogue,” two weeks of on-campus programming that began Tuesday morning with raising a Black Lives Matter flag.
“There are tons of student groups here that have great missions and have great goals, but there’s the most freedom when you are just a bunch of students together,” Harris added. “That has helped it … transcend a lot of the barriers that … arise when you’re trying to organize something across campus.”
Northwestern’s executive director Jeremy Schenk spoke about the importance of the Black Lives Matter program, explaining that the university aims to allow all students to build a community:
“We want to create a facility where we ensure that everybody is able to build community here,” he said. “We’re really proud of our students who have worked hard to make sure that we can have this really strong two weeks of programming just to engage in the dialogue that’s really important and to be able to do it in a safe and intentional way.”