Chris Hart-Williams | Editor-in-Chief , Nia Doaks | Managing Editor
Days before Michael Brown’s community of family, friends, and supporters said their goodbyes at his funeral service, students of N.C. State rallied to host a campus-wide conversation regarding the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death.
“Recently, a lot of N.C. State students have been very active within this current case that has happened in Ferguson, Missouri. We want to give students the opportunity to really speak about it on campus,” said Jonique Lyles, president of S.P.E.A.K. at N.C. State.
S.P.E.A.K., Students Proactively Engaged Towards Activism Knowledgeably, is new a student group at N.C. State that provides a platform for students to discuss current social and global issues. ‘Hands Up Speak Up’, was the group’s first event.
On Thursday time for a moment of silence and a ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ photo was taken in recognition of the recent events in Ferguson.
“It’s a beautiful moment, to see people gathered out here for a common reason,” said Dr. George Nichols, a psychologist in the Student Health Center’s counseling department.
Throughout the day, passers-by on their way to class and elsewhere became participants. Some signed the wall of the Free Expression Tunnel with their handprint, and others wrote their thoughts on dry-erase boards.
Members of S.P.E.A.K. also encouraged participants to take ‘Hands Up’ photos, like those that have circulated online and have become representatives of the current unrest in Ferguson and nationally.
Protests in Ferguson have ended in arrests and the tear-gassing of hundreds. Those critical of Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Michael Brown at least six times, have aroused the attention of people and news media throughout the country and abroad.
“I believe that this was racially motivated,” said Kiarra Hicks, a junior in sports management. “The tear gas and media blackouts were unnecessary. I feel that the [citizens of Ferguson] have every right to assemble the way that they are. I feel like my rights as an American are being imposed on.”
According to its website, S.P.E.AK. aims to promote student knowledge, passion, and voice through activism.
“Essentially we want to be a voice for students,” said Lyles. “I want S.P.E.A.K. to be an open outlet for students to bring current issues, local or international, on campus in a fun way because students don’t really have time to speak on current events but also have fun on campus – so I wanted to combine both of those ideas.”
In the future, Lyles and members of S.P.E.A.K. plan to host showcases, poetry slams and paint the free expression tunnel again.
“This organization is really just an outlet for us to express our opinions and express our views,” said Hicks. “The “K” in our name stands for Knowledgeably – so it’s about knowing what you’re talking about and having the facts to back it up, not just having an opinion based on what other people are saying.”
S.P.E.A.K. is having their interest meeting on during the month of September.
Want to know the latest about S.P.E.A.K. follow them on Twitter: @SpeaknowNCSU.