The Black Lives Matter Movement and How FHN Students Support It


Protestors hold posters at a protest on Main Street, St. Charles, in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. (Photo by Kaili Martin)

By Ashlynn Perez

In the past few weeks, the world has been roused to action. Protests and riots have begun in cities across America, sparking similar gatherings in the United Kingdom, Germany, Iran and numerous other countries. This global outcry is a response to police brutality and a spotlight on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

“The first word that comes to mind when I think of Black Lives Matter is empowerment,” junior Mya Walker said. “Black people aren’t given enough opportunities to embrace their blackness and the Black Lives Matter movement highlights that. It gives people a space to be fully, unapologetically black.”

Students of FHN who support the BLM movement, including Walker and senior Ana Paris, are calling for racial inclusivity and education in the community. Education is often the first step to progress, and with resources circling social media to teach people about racial issues, access to understanding is easier than ever.

“It’s just not fair to others to not be educated, because that’s a detriment to their existence and their reality,” Walker said. “Because we live in the day and age of technology, there’s no longer an excuse to be uneducated or not understand the facts.”

FHN students have been signing and sharing petitions, demanding justice for George Floyd’s murder and campaigning to raise Officer Derek Chauvin’s charge – which happened successfully – as well as donating to the bail funds of protestors arrested in Minneapolis and other major cities. Some have even attended the protests scattered throughout St. Charles and O’Fallon. 

“I pretty much do everything possible,” Paris said. “I donate when I can, I write emails. Anytime I see a petition cross my social media, I sign it.”

Paris, Walker and other student activists have spoken out on social media, calling for reform, education and inclusivity. The Black Lives Matter movement has become a huge topic in the FHN community, and those involved hope that the current awareness is just the first step in the right direction.

“It’s important we make a change,” Paris said. “I want our future to be better, so our kids don’t have to go through what we’re going through now.”

The phrase “Black Lives Matter” first came into popularity after the death of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager who was fatally shot as he walked home from a convenience store in 2012. The words have come to represent a modern civil rights movement that fights for equality and respect for black people.

“The Black Lives Matter movement means everything to me,” Paris said. “Halfway through my junior year, I started to educate myself on black history, but especially since quarantine started, it has become a really important part of my life.”

This movement has recently sent shockwaves through the world, and even in the local St. Charles community. Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with the death of a 46-year-old black man named George Floyd. Floyd died on May 26 in southern Minneapolis.

The death of George Floyd sparked outrage in Minneapolis and across the country. Activists have rallied to demand an end to police brutality and respect for African-American people. Protests and riots have begun in major cities everywhere, but even close to home, there have been examples of activism in the community: this movement has struck students, just like it has struck the cities.

“We feel these things,” Paris said. “Especially when we are on social media. We have to witness black people being harmed and murdered, and we have to witness police brutality, and it takes a toll on your mental state. I wish people would understand what we have to go through.”

FHN students have put their weight behind the cause, especially in recent weeks, proclaiming their support for the movement and pleading for their community to grow closer against racial injustice.

“I think there are steps to be taken, but it starts with understanding,” Walker said. “The more we empathize, the more we grow.”