Photo and story by KeWana McCallum / Contributing Writer
The Black Student Union hosted a “Dear White People” panel Monday to educate anyone who will be protesting the “White Lives Matter” rally scheduled for Saturday in Murfreesboro.
The Black Student Union has been on MTSU’s campus since the ’60s. The organization was created as a safe place for people to come and discuss the different racial issues that arise on campus. Today, the organization maintains those same goals and addresses issues such as active white supremacy groups.
Raeven Harmon, vice president, said she saw posts on social media about protesters’ plans to attend the rally.
“They’re not prepared for it, and they don’t know what to expect,” she said.
Joshua Crutchfield and Mia J. Thomas, representatives of Black Lives Matter Nashville, Keith Caldwell, a pastor at Key Memorial United Methodist Church, and Jason Bennett, a representative of the counter-protest group, Murfreesboro Loves, attended as guest speakers and discussed what people can expect at the rally.
“Having this discussion is going to help out a lot,” said Amir Odom, a Black Student Union member who felt the panel was a good thing for anyone who plans to attend the rally.
Odom said he plans to attend himself.
Many of the students had questions; one student asked why the rally was going to occur in Murfreesboro.
“Murfreesboro is a haven for white activity,” Crutchfield said.
According to statistics gathered by the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were 38 identified hate groups active in Tennessee in 2016, including a Murfreesboro chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Jim Crow is still part of this culture,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell also said his goal is to deconstruct the brutal aspects of white supremacy. Caldwell mentioned that there are certain things you have to do when going to rallies to stay safe, such as not going alone and being peaceful.
“There are some who will walk directly into the crowd of counter-protesters, bumping into people purposely just to get someone to retaliate,” Caldwell said.
Other members on the panel stated that some of them would be attending the rally, and anyone who planned to come could reach out to them so that they would not be going alone.
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