Local university hosts forum on social issues

Social activist Alicia Garza (c) stands with students for pictures at the Black Lives Matter forum at Austin Peay State University on February 4.

Social activist Alicia Garza (c) stands with students for pictures at the Black Lives Matter forum at Austin Peay State University on February 4.

Dozens of people, including college students and local residents, gathered at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., on February 4, to hear Alicia Garza, a social activist, discuss the civil rights movement ‘Black Lives Matter’—a movement that has everyone talking. Garza also talked about how people can become involved in their community.

Garza was the featured speaker for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ forum held at the Mabry Concert Hall as part of Black History Month. Garza addressed the origin of the movement, which started in 2013 after the murder trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. She said that ‘Black Lives Matter’ started as a love letter to the African American community in which she expressed that African Americans were not being treated fairly and equally in the United States and around the world. Garza also addressed some of the myths of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and its direction. She also said that social movements such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ may have started on social media, but it is people who start social movements.

“Hashtags don’t start movements, people do,” said Garza. “Not one person, not one small group of people, but many people in relationship to each other, not all doing the same things, but all with the same goal in mind and all with the same vision.”

Garza said she wanted to figure out how to connect with people all over the country, whether it would be in the local community or on social media. She said this social movement involves “a group of people in different parts of the country coming together to eliminate structural racism and state-sanctioned violence in local communities,” which includes problems such as poverty and laws that are discriminatory toward minorities such as the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws. The United States incarcerates more people in prison than any other country. Of the 2.5 million people in prison, most of the prisoners are African American.

Garza gave examples of the things that Black Lives Matter is fighting against everyday such as eliminating the Confederate Flag in states such as Mississippi. People are connected locally and nationally to come together to start a movement to combat the murders of unarmed African Americans. Garza pointed out that there is more to the Black Lives movement than stopping police violence against minorities. She said that the goal is to make sure that African Americans are treated with respect.