Black Activism: A call to action through history and knowledge

By Syllia Newstead

Staff Writer

blacklivesmattersweden

Feministiskt Initiativ’s Youtube video shown during lecture

Salisbury University hosted a Black Activism lecture on Tuesday evening in Conway Hall 153.

Assistant Professor Aston Gonzalez had a few insights on that topic. Gonzalez mainly teaches African American History from pre- and post-Civil War with some other history courses.

“It is a subject that more people need to know about, as well as it being a timely topic to help students and faculty members understand a pressing contemporary issue,” Gonzalez said.

The lecture began with the video, “Black Lives Matter Sweden” by Feministiskt Initiativ, which he first watched with his friends in England in 2016.

The video showed different black Swedes talking about black oppression and how it is dehumanizing the black race.

It also talked about how 700 black refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to reach Europe for a better life. The video is meant to persuade the viewers to take action.

“When they die, it’s just another article in the newspaper, sometimes,” Gonzalez said. “The racist violence towards black bodies is enabled through your inaction.”

The video ended with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stating, “we must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.”

The question of what can be changed was prompted, followed with the emphasis that there’s a need for visibility on the topic and a change in laws.

He explains that to change the legislation and the police officers themselves, it is necessary to raise funds and have public protests like town halls and campaigns.

There have been multiple people in history who wanted to make the world conscious of what the lives of black people have been like.

Gonzalez talked about nine black activists, including Fredrick Douglas, Henry “Box” Brown, Ellen and William Craft and Martin Luther King Jr.

Gonzalez elaborated on each individual, explaining how they became famous in their community and the places they traveled to influence others to help support them.

Henry “Box” Brown mailed himself to freedom and went overseas to reenact him mailing himself. Brown then saved his money so he could buy his family members who were still enslaved.

Another activist, Marcus Garvey, established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which became an enormous movement in African American history.

Many of the famous black activists traveled to Europe and gave their money to the cause to help fight against black oppression.

Gonzalez wanted people to learn from other people’s activism. He wanted people to listen to black leaders and to be acquaintances to people of all demographics.

“I wanted the audience to take from my lecture the broad range of strategies that African Americans had used over the past two centuries to fight for racial equality and justice,” Gonzalez said.

Overall, the goal was to provide insight to make activism personal by encouraging others to speak their minds to the public.

“We are the voice of the movement,” Gonzalez said. “Your story is personal and it can change people’s minds.”

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