Tuesday, March 2, 2021
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BLM protests and UMKC’s response: enough for students?

While students were away this summer, there was a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Protests erupted across the country, Kansas City included. 

UMKC released multiple statements during the height of the protests in June, but some UMKC students didn’t think this was enough. 

SGA President Brandon Henderson weighed in on the topic and focused on what the university can do to change itself. 

“The university can start supporting Black students by hiring more Black faculty. I have had one single black professor in my three years at UMKC,” said Henderson. “This is unacceptable, and I think we can do better. If you want Black students to feel comfortable on campus, you should hire faculty and staff that look like them.”

Kansas City played a major role in the protests this summer against police brutality. Despite being a progressive hub in the Midwest, the city still deals with segregation issues. The dividing line on Troost has segregated the city for decades. For many Kansas Citians, this movement hit home.

Multiple areas of the city held protests, but none were bigger than those held around Mill Creek Parkway (formerly J.C. Nichols Parkway) near the Plaza. University administration put out multiple campus-wide statements on the protests in June, but after backlash from students on its lack of response, UMKC amped up its messaging and held Zoom discussions on race for any student to attend. 

UMKC senior Angel Rojas protested to demand change within the city and support the cause. He wants the university to make more changes in how it addresses race issues. 

“There hasn’t really been a response,” said Rojas.”They’re acting like they’re involved when really they’re not doing anything.”  

Gabrielle Stanley, another UMKC student, and former SGA member, said, “The chancellor isn’t doing enough. He should be out here with us. Instead, we are only getting emails about how they stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. But not one moment have they said ‘black lives matter’ in an email or statement they keep putting out. They need to do more.”

Henderson also said, “This is a work in progress, but change doesn’t happen overnight, and we will continue to hold UMKC accountable until they meet those demands.”

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