Typically a venue for Bradley sporting events, the Renaissance Coliseum was host to advocacy and equality Thursday night. Patrisse Cullors, cofounder of the Black Lives Matter movement, spoke to the Bradley and Peoria communities.
Students, faculty and community members came out to hear what Cullors had to say about the state of modern-day racism in the country. She especially advised the audience to have faith moving forward with the new government administration.
“We might be seeing a moment where every branch of government has been taken over, where there are legitimate white supremacists in the White House,” Cullors said. “That does not mean our power is taken away. That does not mean that we stop. That does not mean that we don’t show up. In fact, now is the time to go hard.”
The Los Angeles-native emphasized immediate involvement in surrounding communities to spark necessary changes.
“If we don’t shift dynamics now, if we don’t hold elected officials accountable now, if we don’t help each other now, imagine Peoria in 40 or 50 years,” Cullors said.
Cullors also said she wanted the crowd to understand strength in numbers and the need to gather in large groups.
“[Cullors] talked a lot about the power of teams and the power of organizing together,” senior sports communication major Brandon Wallace said. “She made it clear that all organizing is, is putting a team together, putting trust in that team and having that team fight together instead of alone.”
The Sociology Club worked with other organizations on campus to sponsor the event in order to shed light on these issues.
“This is a white-dominated campus … and so when we [tried] to do things like solidarity with Missouri, we got backlash especially on different social media platforms,” Everley Davis, president of Sociology Club, said. “We needed to bring this talk here so that [we] could kind of, honestly, throw it in their face like this is something that is not going to go away, and you can’t trample over us. We’re not mighty in numbers, but we have a voice.”
Davis, a junior sociology and Spanish double major, said she hopes this opens the discussion and brings more openness to campus about these issues. She also said she hopes to see more advocates for this cause helping the community.
“I’m hoping that people will understand where we’re coming from, we’re not just angry students, and it’s not a new issue, but I hope that there will be more allies, more than anything,” Davis said.
Wallace said after listening to Cullors, he wants to become a more active part of these happenings.
“I’m just hoping to stay aware and be involved and try to utilize all the protests, demonstrations or anything else that people have,” Wallace said. “I want to encourage people to go out to them as I go out to them myself.”
Davis also said while bringing Cullors in to speak was imperative, she and many others still have more ground to cover.
“[The next step is] planning the next event and finding something else to do to get this conversation really going,” Davis said. “This is just a starting point.”