Looking back at 2020: Students participate in Black Lives Matter protests

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2020 was a year of civil unrest. Protests sparked up in all 50 states and around the world due to the police-involved shootings of black Americans.

People marched in the streets and signed petitions calling for justice for victims of police brutality. The protests brought people from all different walks of life and races to come together for change and address the racism so institutionalized in America and other countries. Many St. John’s students attended these protests along with many teens over the world that hope for a better future and change, some even leading their own protests. The Sabre interviewed Ian Shaiyen ‘22, Liam Edmondson ‘21, and Aronke Fashina ‘21 to discuss why they were protesting and what they took away from those powerful events. 

Q: Why did you decide to attend the protests? 

A: After years of learning about the civil rights movement in school and looking up to John Lewis and Bobby Kennedy, I always liked to think that if I were alive in the 1960s I would have stood up and marched for the passage of the Civil Rights Act. After the outrage I felt watching the horrific footage of George Floyd’s death, I knew that this was the modern Civil Rights Movement and that even though I wasn’t being directly affected, I could not stand idly by to the injustices against black Americans that I saw night after night on my tv screen.

-Liam Edmondson ‘21.

Q: What was it like for you?

A: For me, the protests offered me a chance for self discovery, showing me what public outrage and systemic failure looks like at the ground level. I think that with media perception a lot of people might not understand the gravity of how hard it is to simply have to deal with an oppressive system every day of your life, and through the protests I met a variety of people that shared those same views.

-Ian Shaiyen ‘22. 

Q: What was the most memorable part?

A: I have so many favorite moments from the various protests I attended over the summer, but an image that continues to come to mind is the sight of high schoolers filling the entire lawn outside of the National Cathedral. Seeing how many young people turned out.

-Liam Edmonson ‘21. 

A: Honestly, the experience was empowering. We kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. It felt so powerful and surreal. It was safe and amazing. A lot of people, including me and my friends, go to speak about how we feel about the movement. All around it was a great experience.”

-Aronke Fashina ‘21.

Q: What did you learn from the protest?

A: I learned how important it is to show the world why Black Lives Matter, to stop assuming that others already knew why so many of us feel so disgusted with the system, and to bring up dialogue in a respectful way to others who might not necessarily understand.

-Ian Shaiyen ‘22. 

Q: Why do you think the protests are important? 

A: I work in the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the NCNW. (National Council of Negro Women), both corporations that raise awareness to the African American issues, but these protests are the only way we can show real raw emotion and anger toward what’s going on. The protests have made a difference and have brought many people of many races, religions, genders, and backgrounds to come together to fight for one  thing: equality for all.

-Aronke Fashina ‘21. 

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