Black student groups hold die-in
About 60 students participated and 10 faculty and staff attended
The Black Students’ Union, Black Graduate Student Association, and Black Business Student Association protested and held a die-in Monday. Protesters laid on the floor in the area connecting Lobby 7 and the Infinite Corridor to represent those who have died as a result of police brutality.
About 60 black undergraduate and graduate students participated in the protest and about 10 faculty and staff attended, Kelvin Green II ’21, co-chair of the BSU, said in an interview with The Tech.
There have been many die-ins on college campuses following the shootings of Michael Brown, Jr., Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner, by police officers. “We wanted to bring [die-ins] back to show that [black people are] still dealing with the same issues,” such as police brutality, “and we wanted people to say, ‘Why would someone lie on the ground for a prolonged period of time?’ and for it to be a conversation starter around how we can change the system so we don’t have to do things like this,” Green said.
Corban Swain G, co-chair of the BGSA, read aloud a poem he wrote as an undergraduate student in the aftermath of the shooting of Brown, titled “The Silence of Michael Brown.” After the line, “If Michael Brown’s body could talk, this is what is would say [sic]”, students began a four-minute die-in.
Swain told The Tech in an interview that onlookers stopped, listened, and seemed “surprised but engaged.” Other passersby stepped over the students lying on the floor, according to Green.
The die-in lasted four minutes to symbolize how police left Brown’s body uncovered for four hours, Green said. Brown, an eighteen-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer in 2014.
After Swain concluded his poem, the students linked arms in a circle and placed their hands over their hearts. They sang songs — including “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” (the “Black National Anthem”) and “We Shall Overcome,” which was a key song of the Civil Rights Movement — and prayed for justice.
The BSU also organized Black Hack, the display celebrating Black History Month in Lobby 7. The motivation was “one, to make more people aware of Black History Month at MIT, and two, to inspire within the black community a sense of activism and corral people together to express themselves in a very public way,” Green said.