Following the grand jury decision surrounding the police-involved killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, the office of Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs and chief diversity and inclusion officer Bryan Samuel hosted a vigil and viewing of a documentary regarding Taylor’s case.
The documentary was followed by discussion. Organizers said they hoped visitors would engage in meaningful dialogue and find common ground over the issues of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Samuel worked with Adrian Rodriguez, associate vice president for student life of diversity and multicultural student affairs, and Trumanue Lindsey, director of DMSA, to plan the event.
Jaymes Whitfield, freshman in business administration, said he was glad DMSA held the event.
“I figured I’d just come down here and put the realization back in my head that African-American people are really struggling right now,” Whitfield said.
The decision of Taylor’s case is not the first time Whitfield felt the impact of racial injustice. As soon as the Black Lives Matter movement began, he said, his family taught him to be careful in all that he does because of police brutality.
Whitfield and Juan Carlos Bocanegra, junior in management information systems, both said the vigil and documentary showing were helpful in showing support for Black Lives Matter.
“The Multicultural Center here is banded together very well,” Bocanegra said.
As a person of color, Bocanegra said he was also made aware of police brutality from a young age and he came to the vigil because of the tragedies resulting from police brutality and systemic racism.
Samuel said that people need to understand that all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.
“We needed to do something to engage our diverse community and help individuals process and think about this and how we might want to move forward,” Samuel said.
Moving forward, Rodriguez said the main goal of the vigil and documentary is to create impactful dialogue among students and the K-State community.
Be Stoney, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, helped organize the event with Rodriguez, and said she hopes students gain self-awareness in how they are handling the current situation and engage in dialogue with diverse community members.
“I hope whatever messages are said tonight that we all grow and heal at the same time,” Stoney said.
Lindsey said he wants students to know the DMSA offices are here to support them.
The event w his way of being proactive in supporting Black Lives Matter and the fight against police brutality and systemic racism, Lindsey said.
“[Solving racial issues] starts at a societal level,” Lindsey said. “The main starting point is getting people to recognize that there is an issue.”