Photos by Santiago Ochoa
The names of Black lives lost to police brutality echoed down the streets of Flint during the UM-Flint Students for Black Lives Matter event on Saturday, Sep. 26.
UM-Flint community members gathered at the ice rink to mourn the deaths of individuals like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and to invoke the equal treatment of Black people everywhere.
With fists raised and voices chanting in unison, students and faculty marched the streets that border the university, and were met with the cheers of beaming Flint residents along the way.
One resounding chant began with the phrase, “There’s no power like the power of the people.” According to Student Government’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Omar Elnour, the capacity to enact change truly does rest with the people.
“I think [the event] shows the power that we as university students have. It took virtually one student … she put in on her own back, and organized this whole rally. We need to stop leaning on other people to organize these things and do it ourselves,” Elnour said.
Ashley McIntosh, president of UM-Flint’s Block Club and driving force behind this event, expressed her hope to raise awareness about Black issues and embolden those who are affected by racism, through this event and others like it. “BLM is an everyone issue, not just a Black issue,” McIntosh said, “Racism affects everybody … the only way that we can move past that is to address these things and heal.”
Chancellor Dutta, who marched alongside students, said he plans to make UM-Flint “an environment where Black students feel supported and not threatened.” Through the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan, he hopes to accomplish just this, and to establish better connections between the City of Flint and the university.
Officers of UM-Flint’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) cleared the way for marchers as they walked the streets. At one point, officers blocked traffic while protesters gathered in the road to observe an 8 minute and 46
second moment of silence for George Floyd.
As Director of Public Safety Raymond Hall explained, “The narrative has to continue to be unity … Supporting public safety on campus and supporting Black Lives Matter is not mutually exclusive. We’re united, as you can tell.”
Though the march came to an end a few hours later, McIntosh’s devotion to raising awareness for Black issues is ongoing.
“As student leaders, we need to keep the momentum going,” McIntosh said, “We can’t just go on campus and … create events to make people happy. We need to create events that address the issues.”