Liberty students gather to promote the discussion of racial and social issues on campus
Members of the Liberty University football team and the women’s basketball team organized a gathering at the base of the Freedom Tower Tuesday morning to peacefully discuss racial issues.
Students gathered at 10:30 a.m., and some held “Black Lives Matter” flags. The meeting progressed into a conversation, as attendees struck up civil and respectful discussions from differing points of view. As the meeting progressed, Shaq Cook, Associate Director of Diversity Engagement from the Office of Equity and Inclusion addressed the crowd, thanking them for joining in the meeting.
“The conversation we’re having today is why our office exists,” Cook explained.
More people lined up to contribute to the discussion, and some of the crowd asked heated questions. The organizers responded expressing that the purpose for the discussion today was to be respectful and civil above all.
The crowd grew as classes let out. Dee Brown, a member of the women’s basketball team, took up the megaphone emphasizing that the gathering was to remain peaceful, and that they did not have anything to do with the organization that is hosting violent protests across the country.
“We are not with the organization,” she reiterated. “We are not here to protest the police or bash them in any way.”
Kelvin Edwards, the Executive Vice President of the Department of Management Efficiency and Diversity, released a statement about the assembly, saying it was “in the interest of Christian unity and bringing awareness to social and racial injustice.” He also mentioned a new student initiative called “Justice4Us.”
“While some who used the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ were in attendance, to be clear, this was not a Black Lives Matter event, although we believe that black lives do indeed matter,” Edwards’ statement said. “This Justice4Us was a student-led and student-created initiative. It is inclusive of all who support Christian unity and social justice.”
This gathering was not the original plan – a march from the Freedom Tower was planned for the morning but was postponed as the university felt that it could not provide adequate protection for the protesters, according to a post on Brown’s Instagram.
Campus pastor and Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser attended the gathering and commented on Brown’s post the night before.
“I know this is disappointing, but keep steady,” Nasser wrote. “Keep growing in the Lord and know you are not alone.”
The full march is rescheduled to take place next week.