Story by: Miles Amende & Chloe Fullenkamp
The Cultural Wellness Coalition hosted the Justice for Black Lives March on Wednesday, Sept. 2. Participants marched from the DakotaDome down University street and up to Slagle Hall, where CWC members spoke about the importance of the demonstration.
Marcus Destin, CWC co-president, said the rally was held to let the next generation know police violence will not be tolerated.
“This is for long after we are done in South Dakota,” Destin said in his speech outside the DakotaDome. “Nothing has happened in Vermillion —not yet. But we must be a model community.”
Ashley Charlie, Junior physical therapy major, led the chants during the march. Charlie said the number of people at the protest exceeded the expected amount.
“It felt more comfortable to communicate with the community. We are hoping for a better community moving forward,” Charlie said in an interview after the protest.
Leading the chants, Charlie said, initially made her nervous.
“In a way I was leading the whole pack, but seeing the reaction and the chants put more motivation in me,” Charlie said. “It felt great to have the whole community behind me.”
One of the marchers, Alice Lunardelli, carried a sign which stated “All Lives Can’t Matter until Black Lives Matter.” She said participating in a BLM march meant showing support to the USD community.
“It means that we love diversity here at USD and are not afraid to stand up for each other,” Lunardelli said. “Carrying a sign (means) not being afraid of taking a stand. I want to support my community by showing that I have both courage and vulnerability.”
Isaiah McDaniels, senior criminal justice major, said the organization has a great sense of unity, and that their next goals are to get more people involved.
“The perception of the issues we deal with are at the forefront. We have taken a huge step forward not only for USD or Vermillion, but for the United States,” McDaniels said. “The next step is to have more people involved. We want to have more events for people to get involved with so we can grow as a community.”
Destin said the protest could spark change in the community.
“We’ve got more work to do … but I love this,” Destin said. “This was amazing, this was a moment. It can change. If people take it into their own hands, it changes everything, it changes everything about the campus and the surrounding city.”