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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Black Lives Matter on campus

The Cross-Cultural Leadership Center hosted a Black Lives Matter rally. Photo credit: Molly Sullivan

Black Lives Matter brought students and community members together to speak about race and diversity at Chico State on Friday, Feb. 26.

Marc’s Legacy

The event specifically honored the memory of Marc Thompson, a Chico State student and activist who was found burned in his car in September 2014. His death was ruled a homicide and the investigation is still ongoing.

“People try to pretend that here in Chico it’s not affecting us, but if that were truth, Marc would be here on this microphone right now. It is important to remind everybody on this campus that it is happening in our own backyard,” said Egypt Howard, an assistant program coordinator at Chico State’s Cross-Cultural Leadership Center and an organizer of the rally.

Krystle Tonga, assistant program coordinator at the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center, knew Thompson personally and spoke about the impact of his memory on campus.

“As we go forward, Marc is a legacy,” she said.

“One of the things we are looking to do is institutionalize his legacy on our campus so that when you come on our campus, you recognize that your life does matter and that we will continue to fight for your life in every situation,” Tonga said.

Alexis Fuentes attended the rally at the CCLC in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo credit: Molly Sullivan

Alexis Fuentes, a sophomore psychology and criminal justice major, said he came to the rally to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

“Marc Thompson’s case makes the movement hit closer to home,” he said.

Diversity on Campus

Rally organizers localized the issues addressed by the Black Lives Matter movement and addressed the problem of diversity on campus.

“Black Lives Matter is more than police brutality,” Howard said. “Black Lives Matter is about the fact that in a campus of 17,000 students, black students represent less than 300. That’s a problem.”

Howard spoke about the desire to take an African-American studies course but couldn’t because the enrollment was too low and the course was dropped.

“It’s time for us to stand up, to make our voices be heard and to tell people what we need,” Howard said.

Howard’s experience coincides with the slow progress of Chico State’s Diversity Action Plan to change the university’s demographics to better reflect the demographics of California.

Students Speaking Out

In addition to Howard’s and Tonga’s speeches, the rally showcased student voices on the issue.

“Black issues and social injustices aren’t really talked about on campus, so having an event where we can openly discuss these issues is a big deal,” said Alexis Green, a sophomore criminal justice major.

Students presented original poetry and musical performances, and an open mic allowed attendees to share their opinions and feelings about the movement’s place on campus.

The rally was hosted by the Cross-Cultural Learning Center, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and University Housing and Food Services. It concludes a series of events celebrating Black History Month.

Molly Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or @SullivanMollyM on Twitter.

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