By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer, Video by Siegrid Massie | Broadcast Reporter
On Baylor’s 176 birthday and the first day of Black History Month, students gathered and took a picture in front of Judge Baylor holding Black Lives Matter signs and dressed in all black clothing.
Aurora, Colo., junior Sam Onilenla said the demonstration was planned on Baylor’s birthday in order to make a statement about racial issues on campus.
“I think that the problems we have today started from that day,” Onilenla said. “Integration didn’t happen until 1963, so you have 118 years where there’s no Black people on this campus. I think that is significant because this campus was built not to have Black people on this campus.”
Onilenla said they are trying to put pressure on the Board of Regents to remove the statue of Judge Baylor from campus.
“The point of the picture is not to remove Judge Baylor as a whole. It’s to remove Judge Baylor from campus,” Onilenla said. “I don’t want to see it on campus just because I know I’m not supposed to be here, according to him. Having him off campus is going to be the start of racial healing.”
If Judge Baylor is removed from campus, Onilenla said the students will see that Baylor is taking racial issues seriously, and more will be inspired to support and understand Black students.
“It’s having those ideals still founded, literally built, ingrained into the school,” Onilenla said. “Once we remove that from campus, then we can start removing … the rest of the stuff off the campus that makes us feel uncomfortable.”
Onilenla said Judge Baylor could be moved to Mayborn Museum, but the statue has no place on a Christian campus.
“As a slave owner and as a Confederacy supporter, he should not be on this campus, especially right in front of Waco Hall,” Onilenla said. “There’s nothing religious about killing slaves or having those ideas.”
The Board of Regents are set to meet Feb. 17-19 and will decide at that time what action to take regarding the Commission on Historic Campus Representations’ report.
Onilenla said this demonstration was in the works before the incident last week when BUPD was called on a group of Black students in Moody Memorial Library but that it fueled his fire to keep asking more from Baylor.
After the incident in Moody, many students showed support on social media. An Instagram account called Black Social Workers Matter created a petition calling Baylor to action that they will officially send to the university on Feb. 3.
Broken Arrow, Okla., senior Jada Holliday said they are not going to stop putting pressure on Baylor to make changes.
“Applying pressure at this point doesn’t look like petitions or statements or even just putting things on social media and voicing our opinion,” Holliday said. “Baylor’s made it very clear that that does not affect their decision to actually prioritize putting Black students and marginalized minority students first.”
San Antonio freshman Sydney Davis said it’s hard to feel supported at a predominately white institution, but seeing many different races at the demonstration was reassuring.
“To know that we are supported not only by Black people, but people of other colors, other races — it’s extremely important,” Davis said. “It gets the message heard, and it gives us a sense of unity that we don’t really get to see on an everyday basis.”
Onilenla said relating to the student body is what will create more change on campus for minority students.
“Baylor always emphasizes conversations,” Onilenla said. “It’s over to have the conversations with the administration. I think it’s time to have those conversations with our peers because obviously they don’t understand, so if we are reluctant to have those conversations with them, they’re going to continue to not understand. I think it starts with them and starts with us having those conversations to understand what it feels like to be Black; what it feels like to be LGBTQ; what it feels like to be an Asian student; what it feels like to be Hispanic; what it feels like to be a minority on this campus.”