Around 100 members of UCSB’s black community marched from Storke Tower to the Arbor for a political address at noon on Wednesday.
The rally dealt with issues concerning UCSB’s minority students and emphasized student activism to an audience of over 400 people including students, faculty and staff members.
A major issue at the rally was the Oct. 7 elections, during which voters will vote on Proposition 54, which would prohibit state and local governments from classifying any person by race, ethnicity, color or national origin.
Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Jewel Love said such a ban could prevent healthcare researchers and education researchers from obtaining pertinent information needed to compose statistical data based on race and gender. Medical researchers have found that some diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, affect certain ethnicities more than others, Love said, adding that civil rights groups use the data to track hate crimes and discrimination. Education boards rely on the data to determine if ethnic groups have different levels of access to education, Love said.
Love, a senior majoring in black studies and philosophy, opened his address with “Represent, represent, represent – that is exactly what we are to do here today.”
Black Studies Professor Otis F. Madison, who received the Professor of the Year Award from UCSB’s chapter of the Mortar Board National Honor Society in 1992, also spoke at the address and recalled past achievements of UCSB’s black community, including the foundation of the MultiCultural Center in 1987 and the establishment of the Ethnic Studies Dept. in the 1960s. Both came in response to student activism, Madison said.
Other speakers included Courtney Schroeder, a junior majoring in business economics and political science; senior Amberjae Freeman, who would not give her major; and Va’Shajn Parr, a fourth-year Latin American and Iberian studies major.
Freeman began her speech by saying that she was declaring her own war on terrorism – the terrorism against the black community. She defined “terrorism” as oppression and disrespect directed towards blacks in forms of stereotypes and decreased educational opportunities.
Parr quoted a 1968 speech by Stephen Biko, the founder and president of South African Students’ Organization (SASO): “Being black is not a matter of pigmentation; it is a reflection of mental attitude.”
Cynthia Diaz, a third-year sociology major and black studies minor, said that the rally was “a good way for people to be educated about certain issues … it would be great if people really took action.”
Love said one of his main goals is the founding of a black student center on campus.
“We want our own space,” said Love.
Chelsea Moore, a freshman math major, said the rally served to let students know what is going on around them in their own university.
“The [political address] was to raise social awareness among the students,” Moore said. “It’s something that we think they should be aware of.”