Students raise awareness of #blacklivesmatter with benefit concert


Members of Legacy Dance Team performed at the “Our Time Is Now” Benefit Concert to Kanye West’s “Blood on the Leaves.”

Daria Gaither

#Blacklivesmatter is a national organization and movement dedicated to “rebuilding the Black liberation movement,” according to the #blacklivesmatter website.

This movement was created after the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. But, what does #blacklivesmatter mean to Kent State students? Kent State’s Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. held the “Our Time Is Now” Benefit Concert Thursday night in the Kiva to showcase talent around Kent State and raise awareness of the #blacklivesmatter movement.

“Our generation never knew our lives were at risk until Trayvon Martin happened,” said junior broadcast journalism major Savanna McCarthy, host of the concert.

During a time when there has been a spike in violence against youth, an increase in police brutality and gang violence in the black community, Kent State students are speaking up.

“The #blacklivesmatter movement is a way for people who are working against social injustice to come together and work towards progress,” said Jasmyne Woodward.

Woodward, a sophomore hospitality management major lost her older brother to gun violence when she was 6-years-old. Woodward wants all members of the community to recognize what is going on around them and to be cautious.

“It doesn’t matter what color is behind the trigger finger, all lives matter,” Woodward said.  

Controversy has hit the #blacklivesmatter movement because some people feel that the term “#blacklivesmatter” separates other ethnicities from the movement. Some argue that the movement should be, #alllivesmatter.

“All lives really do matter,” rapper, Case Barge said before his performance at the concert. “I understand we are of color, but we cannot stay stuck, we have to move on and make things better,” said Barge.

Some members of the black community feel the past should be forgotten, but keynote speaker, Pastor Bryndon Glass of S.P.A.N. Ministries in Tallmadge, Ohio thinks otherwise.

“It is very true that all lives matter, but right now, black lives matter,” said Glass.

A common phrase said by Glass throughout his speech was, “Black lives have always mattered.”

Glass shared that history tells us black lives have always mattered because of the contributions made to this world by black lives.  

During Glass’ keynote, he took the audience through the history of black lives, from slavery to Jim Crow Laws, to the modern day movement and explained how the history of black lives contributes to today’s #blacklivesmatter movement.

Glass told the audience that in order to contribute to the #blacklivesmatter movement, they have to understand why black lives matter.

“We have to shift the culture to where we determine our worth and not the racist system,” Glass said.

Glass encouraged the audience to start a new movement.

“We need a new movement, a cultural movement, a movement that empowers African-Americans to walk in worth and recognize, ‘I matter,’” he said.

Glass preached to the audience about how fighting this movement is more than just fighting for legislation to protect the black community if something happens.

“We have to get to a point when we stop rallying for just legislation, we have to

take the next step,” he said.

Glass challenged the audience.

“You have skills and abilities, go home and prove black lives matter by giving

your life to the cause and redefine why black lives really matter,” Glass said.

The concert featured Kent State students showcasing their talents. Prior to

each performance, a video played showing the performer tell why the #blacklivesmatter movement was important to them.

“#Blacklivesmatter matters to me because I am a black man at a predominantly white institution,” said senior pan-african studies major Damien McClendon in his video. “This movement can help raise awareness in our community by helping us know what is going on.”

Members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. are confident that this event opened

the eyes of black students at Kent State.

“After tonight, people will grasp the feeling that black lives matter,” said Corin Walker, junior fashion merchandising major and historian and treasurer of Kent State’s Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

The purpose of this event, falls in line with the movement Black United Students is starting, in order to bring members of the black community together to gain a better sense of community, unity and for each member of the black community to find their purpose.

“It is important for the black community to come together, that way nobody will feel alone on this campus,” said Candace Taylor, junior criminology major and member of the BUS programming committee. “We hope that when people see people of their own color, they will feel welcome on this campus.”