On Tuesday night, the Minnesota State University, Mankato Black Student Union put together a vigil in Breonna Taylor’s memory. The organization aimed to remember one of the innocent lives taken due to police brutality and have a discussion about the ways in which black women are mistreated in this world.
To start the event, MNSU junior Bola Ogunlana gave a small speech about why they all were gathering that night and what it meant to her. In response to the history of treatment towards black women, Ogunlana commented, “We’re tired. As a black woman, I am tired.”
She further discussed the manner in which her and other black women are looked at in today’s society. There are struggles her and countless others go through just to stand on the same platform as those who don’t experience the same oppression, if any.
“When people look down on black women, it really is disheartening because we work so hard to get to where even you’re at, or even harder than you to get to where you’re at,” Ogunlana commented.
A main component of her speech was, “See me, hear me, love me,” because it was all about listening to black women’s experiences and to be there for them, instead of pushing them away.
An impactful way the Black Student Union informed the audience about the number of black women mistreated by their country was by writing the name, age, and date of death on paper bags and handing them around to each person.
These bags are currently displayed in the Multicultural Affairs window in the Centennial Student Union.
Ciree Cox, an MNSU senior, was the next to talk. In her discussion, she wanted to emphasize the importance of speaking up for the things you believe in, even if you don’t have anyone standing with you.
“We need to stand up and speak out about the injustices that take place. It happens in Mankato too, and we need to acknowledge it. We have to have these uncomfortable conversations in order to understand the problem, to work on it, and to fix it,” stated Cox.
Former Student Government President Anisa Omar walked up to the microphone to inform the audience about why it’s essential for students to be invested in these social issues. The idea behind her speech was that although hearing about these tragedies are upsetting, it also brings a spark of hope after seeing people take to the streets and protesting for a better system that protects all people.
“This is a system. It is not broken; it is working exactly as it has been designed. And it has been designed on the backs of black and brown murder, and the successes have come off the backs of black slaves and indigenous murder,” Omar commented, and continued with, “We must work to destroy these systems, otherwise we will continue to be here and continue to see more black and brown deaths.”
The director of African American affairs at MNSU, Kenneth Reid, gave a powerful and moving speech to not speak above black women, but in support of them. He wanted to acknowledge that while this is not for him or other black men, he spoke as a black individual and reassured students he will continue to work with the students and allies to speak up about injustices.
Reid began his speech with the statement, “The reality is, black women have birthed this nation, cared for this nation, held this nation on its back.”
This comment made the audience reflect on how this country was built and the importance these women have on the country’s history. Reid then continued specifically into the Breonna Taylor case and how the justice system brought her anything but that. He reflected on the fact that she served her country and was an EMT to proudly protect the people around her, and people still are trying to justify this horrific crime.
“Why do we have a criminal justice system? Because everyone has the opportunity to a just and fair trial. Even if someone has committed a crime, it does not mean we are supposed to take their life,” stated Reid.
This vigil was organized to honor not only Breonna Taylor, but all black women throughout the country. If you would like to have a discussion with anyone in the Black Student Union, their office is located in room number 269 in the CSU.
Photos by Mansoor Ahmad/MSU Reporter.