Black Lives Matter co-founders talk human rights with Notre Dame students

From interrupting presidential candidates in Washington D.C., to lecturing a room full of students here in South Bend, Notre Dame’s guest speakers were the co-founders of the civil rights activist group Black Lives Matter.

Monday night, they remembered Martin Luther King by calling for Michiana residents to join the movement.

The university had to open an overflow room that saw 200 students in addition to the 400 plus students that filled the main auditorium.

“Change is really made when people are made to feel uncomfortable and actually address some of the issues,” said Notre Dame senior Steven Waller.

Discomfort might have been one feeling some students felt after listening to the message of the Black Lives Matter co-founders.

In fact it’s a model the organization has used to gain national attention and the support of a few presidential candidates.

But Monday, these activists stepped away from the fiery Washington politics and sat before a group of students looking to ignite a similar flame on campus.

“It really makes what we’re doing on campus fell really important and really relevant going forward, some of the needs that we’re trying to change our campus in terms of diversity and inclusion,” said Waller. 

Co-founder Opal Temeti told the audience despite an exclusive name for the movement, Black Lives Matter also calls for inclusion when addressing human rights.

“I really love how they really made the call white students to get more involved, that really stuck out to me,” said Notre Dame senior Chizo Ekechukawu.

The call to action mixed in with blunt words might have been uncomfortable for some.

But with the majority of the audience being white, students say it was necessary.

“Communication is a big factor right now so I think we need to hold more dialogs we need to really create more space for people to discuss those issues and really figure out how we’re going to move forward,” said Ekechukawu.

This event was a part of the university’s walk the walk week.

And that’s a series of events and programs aimed at addressing race relations.

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