“Black Lives Matter” chants could be heard on West Gaines Street Saturday as Florida A&M students and community members marched to the state Capitol. The protest was organized by two Florida A&M students, Blake Simpson and Christian Miley.
“Being a Black man in America it’s my job to stand up and have my voice heard. Especially in the year 2020, with all the police brutality, I feel like having the protest was something I had to do,” Simpson said.
Protesters marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center north to the Capitol. As protesters gathered on the steps of the Capitol, three speakers were lined up. Protest organizer Miley was the first speaker and he emphasized the need for change regarding police brutality.
According to a Washington Post study, African Americans are excessively affected by police brutality across the nation. The Post’s analysis unveiled that Black Americans comprise 13% of the population but the ratio in which they are shot and killed by police is twice more likely than white Americans.
Niyah Lewis was the next speaker to take the mic. Lewis is a third-year student at Florida A&M majoring in political science with a minor in broadcast journalism and is a social justice advocate. She expanded on the need to get out and vote on November 3. She explained the power of voting and the importance of the youth vote.
The following speaker to take the stage was Zoe Mitchell. Mitchell is a third-year business administration student at FAMU and social justice leader. Throughout her speech, Mitchell encouraged protesters to support Black-owned businesses and shed light on the demand for more Black entrepreneurs. She urged patrons to be self-sufficient in managing their own finances to secure financial freedom.
“I encourage everyone to pour into the Black economy. The reason we have not seen a change is because we [Black people] do not have a dollar that is unified,” Mitchell said.
Among the crowd of protesters was Jada Haywood. Haywood is a freshman majoring in food science at FAMU.
“Without us being out here, there won’t be any change,” Haywood said.
Simpson and Miley encouraged all protesters to wear face masks and assisted with providing water bottles for the attendees. Both also organized the police-led escort and worked with community leaders to block off the streets to better navigate the march.