Organizations support Black Lives Matter through participation in Late Night

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer, Video by BrenShavia Jordan | Broadcast Reporter

Baylor organizations used their platform at Late Night to support Black Lives Matter and stand in solidarity with Jacob Blake, a Black man who was recently paralyzed by police.

Aurora, Colo. junior Sam Onilenla, executive board member for Phi Beta Sigma, had the idea to have a demonstration at Late Night. Many organizations had their own Zoom rooms, and students could click the link to join the call and learn more about the organizations.

Phi Beta Sigma shared its screen with students who joined the Zoom call, Onilenla said.

“It’s going to have a picture of us, we took the photo today there’s like five of us and it’s going to have the message we wrote last night, and it’s going to have the link in the comment section for voter registration, Black Lives Matter and Baylor medical services, mental health services and the Jacob Blake link because a lot of people don’t know what happened,” Onilenla said.

The message to students was written by San Antonio sophomore and vice president pro tempore of Baylor Democrats Alice Shelly, Shreveport, Louisiana sophomore and president pro tempore of Baylor Democrats Veronica Penales and Onilenla. It challenges students to think about if the way they spend their time reflects their morals.

“To put your time and effort into these organizations, you must believe in something greater. It takes a group of people with the same ideals to want to create an impact on the community. Investigate the organizations you are considering prior to joining to make sure you are committed before offering your time. Going back to life as normal suggests passivity. Bringing awareness to the situation is not enough anymore and to create change, we must be the first ones to initiate it,” the statement said.

Onilenla said he hopes that this demonstration will lead to a greater sense of unity in the student body.

“We can’t do this alone. We’ve tried to do this alone for so long, but people are not listening,” Onilenla said. “It takes our counterparts. It takes our fellow peers to raise their voices too … I just hope it just starts something bigger.”

Houston senior Chika Ihenakwe said Black Lives Matter is an important movement to support because racism affects all Black people in America, even those born in different countries.

“Even if it didn’t affect us, this is a human rights issue, so it’s very important that we use our platform at Late Night to create an awareness,” Ihenakwe said.

The message needs to continue to get through to Baylor students, Austin senior Elijah Gifford, president of Kappa Alpha Psi, said.

“Baylor being a predominantly white institution, it’s hard for a lot of the main population at Baylor to understand, to truly understand what’s going on … It’d be great if these orgs can get involved and just … sit and actually become interested and learn what’s really going on,” Gifford said. “I just hope that people can learn because there’s a lot of ignorance out there, which is causing the conflict.”

Gifford said he would like to see more direct action taken by Baylor to support Black Lives Matter. Baylor has so far promised to require diversity training, continue to prioritize diversity when hiring faculty and staff, treat all members of the Baylor community with respect and has set up a commission to discuss Baylor’s history and evaluate the presence of statues, monuments and buildings on campus.

“You can say that there’s a problem and we want to fix it rather than saying we stand with you,” Gifford said. “You’re not saying Black lives matter, you’re saying that you’re here with us and listening. If you’re listening and you still can’t hear us, that’s a problem.”