After watching Black Lives Matter protests throughout the country, Bernadette Barton, a professor of sociology and gender studies and her leadership team decided BLM would be implemented throughout this next academic year.

“I am sad that Black Lives Matter has to exist because of the horrible legacy of racism and brutality that black people endure,” said Barton. “But, I am really excited to see this uprising of people across the nation supporting the goals of Black Lives Matter.”

Originally the theme was going to involve politics given the upcoming election, but BLM proved to be a more prominent topic.

“This is a moment of great change and I think it’s important that we seize the moment and intervene wherever we can to create a more just and joyous world,” said Barton.

Barton said the gender studies program strives to be allies to all those who experience oppression.

“There are black women and black LGBT people whose lives are important,” she said. “Even if gender studies didn’t intersect with every group, although it does, the fact is none of us are free until all of us are free.”

Barton hopes this program can educate and inspire students to have an active role in anti-racism.

“For me the most important message right now is to do anti-racist work where you can,” said Barton. “It isn’t enough to just change people’s hearts and minds. What we want to do is change the policies on institutional levels and those policies then drive people’s changed hearts and minds.”

The program will possibly extend this theme into the following year due to the limitations brought by Covid-19 this semester.

“We are supporting initiatives affiliated with Black Lives Matter, and I also put in a grant this year to do a speaker series for next year on justice injustice,” said Barton. “Our plan is to do what we can hopefully in the spring, but we want to be supportive of the students.”