Historic Moments of Black Excellence at Oregon State University

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Black Lives Matter Movement at Oregon State University


(photo courtesy of Untold Stories: Histories of Students of Color at OSU)

As the #BlackLivesMatter movement swept the nation due to Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors’ dedication to creating intersectional visibility to the prominent police violence that disproportionately affects Black folx in the U.S., with a focus on the intersecting identities of Blackness that shape experience (Black women/Black femmes, Black trans folx, Black folx with disabilities, Muslim Black folx, etc.). As the movement became an international and global phenomena, students at Oregon State began to organize at a grassroots level here in Corvallis, including, but not limited to, protests, community dialogues, safe-spaces, and educational workshops across various organizations at the university.


In November of  2014, the Ferguson grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who murdered 18-year old unarmed Michael Brown as he attempted to run from the officer. Shortly after, several hundred students, faculty, and community members gathered at the Memorial Union Hall at OSU for a community dialogue. The discussion featured community members and Black folx sharing their thoughts on systemic racism, police brutality, white privilege, and colorblindness. For some, it was a place to mourn and engage in community healing. For others, it was a time to acknowledge their privilege and listen to the experiences of those who face racial oppression by the state.


In November of 2015, as police brutality continued to be exposed throughout various social media platforms and the Black Lives Matter movement skyrocketed, Black students at Oregon State organized a Silent March and protest. Over 200 people attended the protest, holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter”, and calling attention to the many names of Black folx who have fallen victim to police violence. After the silent-march, about two-dozen Black individuals staged a “die-in”, lying down in the middle of the quad for several minutes, supporters wrapped in a circle around them. The symbolism of the die-in was to not only highlight the violence against Black bodies in this country, but also to draw more attention to the Black women/femmes, and trans women who are also murdered by the police but overshadowed by Black cisgender men in the mainstream movement.

Though not a comprehensive list, the events highlighted above represent some of the most influential work that Black folx brought to Oregon State University in an attempt to liberate one another and their communities. As with any powerful liberation work, these events were met with controversy and pushback, yet the students still found ways to assert their dedication, bravery, and strength; because of that, many of the milestones and resources that Black students and other students of color on this campus hold are due to the hardworking, resistant, and revolutionary organizers and scholars throughout OSU’s history.