Anahzsa Jones| Managing Editor
On Saturday, Oct. 1 at the NC State vs Wake Forest, over 50 NC State students came together to protest racial inequality and injustice. The students wore black to show solidarity, raised their fists during the national anthem and sat during the alma mater.
Achaia Dent, a freshman studying animal science and an organizer of the event, said, “The purpose of the protest for me was to act against the message of the national anthem. The national anthem has an entire stanza dedicated to romanticizing the killing of slaves and I cannot support that.”
For Stevie Thompson, a junior studying business administration, the purpose was closer to home. He referenced the recent release of racist GroupMe messages from NC State students. “I feel like more people on campus should be made aware how offensive those comments are and how it affects us. It definitely had an effect on me,” said Thompson.
Sitting during the playing of the alma mater was meant to protest the use of the word “dixie.” According to Dent, “Dixie refers to the mason Dixon line which separated the free States and the slave states. Dixie often coincides with the confederacy and what they stood for. I do not support the enslavement of my people so having that word casually in our alma mater is sending a message I don’t agree with.”
Articles detailing the event were posted on the facebook group Wolfpack Students and attracted diverse reactions. Some were confused and questioned the wisdom of protesting during a game where the rival’s colors matched that of the protesters. “Yeah, I think it was kinda a bad day to do it bc Wake’s colors were black so it kinda didn’t stand out like I think they wanted it to,” said Ashleigh Reith, a freshman studying criminology.
To explain the color choice, Dent said, “We wore black to make a physical statement to show solidarity with each other and to separate us visually from the crowd… We wanted people around us to notice what we were doing and it worked.”
For Thompson, the choice of color had historical significance. He talked about Malcolm X and the protests that defined the Civil Rights Movement. Black was the staple color of the movement because, Thompson said, “A lot of American people in black makes a statement.”
Some outright disagreed with the nature of the protest, including Eric Low, a freshman in the life sciences first year program. “Disgusting. If you hold that much contempt for your school, I’m sure UNC is still taking transfers,” said Low.
In addition to the students in the stands, two members of NC State’s marching band, Lorenzo Melton, a junior studying technology engineering and design education and Parker Gagnier, a sophomore studying philosophy and ethics, took a knee during the national anthem in protest.
According to a member of the band who wishes to remain anonymous, “on Monday after rehearsal, the director noted that threats had been made if students were to take a knee during the national anthem. They have been forwarded to a higher power and are being taken seriously. Students have been encouraged to not protest for the safety of their fellow band members. Band staff and students are working on a compromise so that the voices of those who desire to protest are heard while maintaining the safety of the other 300+ members of the band, especially following the events at ECU this past weekend.”
Peaceful protest has long been the most advocated for form of bringing attention to injustice, and that is what these students were attempting to accomplish. While it is true that some disagreed with the method or message of the protest, Dent was not fazed. “I didn’t ask for permission to do it because quite frankly, I don’t care if you disagree. I am standing for what I believe is right, if you aren’t going to join me, get out of the way. It’s time for a change.”