As summer commenced, some students enjoyed their usual relaxing activities, while others went full force on social media and took to the streets of Columbus to stand for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Junior Louis Berger said he participated in BLM by attending four different marches that were around Bexley, and he also used social media to make his voice heard. Berger said that he decided to get involved in the BLM movement because racism and civil injustice in America disappointed him.
“I know that Black people in this country have been suppressed for too long and systemic racism is still present,” Berger said. “If somebody thinks that I am doing wrong by getting involved by Black Lives Matter, I simply don’t care what they think, because I truly believe I’m doing something right.”
Freshman Genesis Lumpkins participated in the BLM movement through social media, including Instagram to repost information on her story and participated by signing petitions that the Bexley Anti-Racist Project mentioned on their social media, she said.
Lumpkins said that as a person of color, she wanted to get involved in the BLM movement to stand up for herself and her community due to the severity of the situation.
When first seeing that the BLM movement was picking up, she was relieved to see people were finally standing up for the Black community, she said. This made her hopeful for what could happen in the future.
Another freshman, Riley Williamson, also took part in the BLM movement by participating in protests organized by BARP, having conversations with family and friends and posting on social media.
Williamson explained that protesting gave her a sense of community and made her feel like she was a part of something bigger than herself.
“It was the first time that I’ve seen so many people unite for one cause, and it makes me want to become involved in more protests in the future,” she said.
These experiences were very transformative in her knowledge of BLM and social justice in America, she said.
“Protesting and being more educated on the subject has made me more supportive, as I’m more aware of the issue,” Williamson said.
Sophomore Lily Cochran got involved in BLM by protesting in Bexley marches at the beginning of summer when the video of George Floyd being killed by the police was going viral on social media, she said. These protests originated from BARP.
“I think it’s a really important movement,” Cochran said. “There shouldn’t be political talk about it because it is basic human rights. There is no way to disregard someone’s life whether it matters or not because that’s blatant racism in my opinion.”
Cochran said that another way she got involved was by having conversations with her liberal friends that had the same opinions as her and conversations with her conservative friends who had different opinions on BLM.
Along with having conversations with friends, Cochran also talked about BLM with her family because she knew they all had the same opinion regarding this topic, she said.
By getting involved in the protests, Cochran explained that seeing so many people in real life made her very emotional because everyone there was fighting for the same goal of racial equality.
Cochran also noticed how the school and Bexley as a community has been changed by BLM and how the Bexley community is not immune to these issues, she said.
“Bexley is a predominantly white community, so I think that it’s going to bring more awareness to everyone because people will pick their heads up and look around to see what is actually happening,” Cochran explained.
Senior Coco Gonzalez was not allowed to participate in protests due to the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a crowd, so she decided to show her support through making t-shirts, she said.
“I wanted to do so much to help this movement, but because I am in high school, it limits the scope of my abilities,” Gonzalez said. “I wanted to do something that would also help my peers feel like they did something to help, too.”
Gonzalez used social media accounts to promote these shirts, alongside her friend, senior Anna Appling, and chose the foundation to donate the money to and how much they would sell the shirts for, she said.
They ended up raising $270 for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is a non-profit organization that aims to defend the rights of every person in the United States. They chose this organization because it has the same beliefs as BLM, Gonzalez explained.
Gonzalez commented that the community and school need to make changes in the wake of this movement. The content provided to students in school will impact how they view the world, especially regarding racial issues, she said.
“I think that people are starting to realize that not only do we have to change our mindset, but we also have to change the way our school teaches certain subjects and even the curriculum that is covered,” she said. “This is not something that will happen overnight, but the fact that people are becoming aware is a step in the right direction.”