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Students participate in Columbus protest in support of Black Lives Matter

Otterbein must back itself on claims of being a diverse and inclusive university

From behind protective face coverings, chants of “Black lives matter!” echoed through the streets of Columbus.

Though the temperatures on Tuesday reached high 80s and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced people to wear masks, the demonstration at the Ohio Statehouse prevailed. Protesters gathered at noon to stand against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd. Contrary to the circulating videos of property destruction erupting during protest, this particular display of resistance was tame and organized.

“[The protest] was extremely peaceful,” said Delaney Lombardi, a junior English major at Otterbein. “The most impactful moment was probably when we laid down in silence with hands behind our backs in honor of George Floyd.”

Following the gathering on the statehouse lawn, the crowd marched through the streets of Columbus. Protesters stopped traffic while the idling cars honked their horns and raised their fists in support.

Most of the attendees were young people. As the next generation, it is our responsibility to participate where we can. The fate of the world is in our hands, and to remain silent about the racial injustice we observe is to continue the oppressive cycle.

"I think it's really important to use our voices to speak up for what's right," said Anna Shoultz, a senior Spanish and creative media major at University of Alabama who also attended Tuesday's protest.

As a white student, Shoultz feels strongly about using her power to help others. "Acknowledging my privilege means standing for my friends who don't get that privilege, marching with them and not being silent when they need support," said Shoultz.

Otterbein University is a predominately white institution. As a school with a mainly non-black student body, we should be using our privilege to not only condemn racist people and systems, but to uplift our black peers and their voices. Otterbein prides itself on being a diverse and inclusive community, and now is the time to back that claim.

Only halfway into the year, 2020 has solidified itself into future history textbooks. It is our responsibility as Otterbein's student body to make sure our community is remembered as a supporting role in the fight for equality.

There are many ways for the Otterbein community to get involved. Use this resource to access petitions and donation organizations, as well as other ways to contribute. Visit Otterbein’s African American Student Union’s instagram for other helpful resources. Attending protests is only one of many ways to promote change within our world. Utilize your social media platform to spread awareness and amplify the voices of our black peers.

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