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Editorial: Opal Tometi's visit an opportunity for students to learn

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Editorial: Opal Tometi's visit an opportunity for students to learn

Students carry posters with messages in protest of police brutality in front of the Alma Mater statue on Monday, December 8, 2014.

Students carry posters with messages in protest of police brutality in front of the Alma Mater statue on Monday, December 8, 2014.

Sonny An

Students carry posters with messages in protest of police brutality in front of the Alma Mater statue on Monday, December 8, 2014.

Sonny An

Sonny An

Students carry posters with messages in protest of police brutality in front of the Alma Mater statue on Monday, December 8, 2014.

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

On Friday, Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Opal Tometi spoke at Allen Hall.EJ She gave a lecture entitled, “Breaking Down Racism, Fighting Racial Injustice in the U.S.”EJ

Her visit comes in the middle of Black History Month and brings with it a stark reminder of why college campuses are at the forefront of civil rights movements of the past.

In the 1960s, students played an integral role in the fight for civil rights. They staged sit-ins, formed organizations and marched. As in many political and social movements, the young people completing their education are ahead of the game in accepting new ideas and enacting change.

Tometi’s visit keeps this tradition alive on our campus. It is no secret that race relations on this campus are a hot topic and that black students have become more vocal when making racial disparities a point of conversation.

Of course, the Black Lives Matter movement was already vocal before Tometi’s visit. There were a number of rallies hosted on campus at the end of first semester. But, having leaders like this come to campus sends a message about change, and those who try to stop it.

“This discourse that said, ‘Don’t talk about race, don’t talk about racism,’ was a way to silence our voices, silence our concerns, silence our pain,” Tometi said in her speech.

As college students, change begins and ends with us. College is a time to try new things and become familiar with new ideas. If you have not seen something from another point of view, try it.

As your grandparents may like to remind you, you’re about to be a part of the real world. While that will entail getting a job and doing taxes, it also means you’re in the prime place to make political and social changes.

Take advantage of opportunities like the Tometi speech. Learn about the world around you to better understand the views of others. By educating yourself about the issues people face in the world, and the part you play in helping or hurting them, you can make more informed and enlightened choices.

This is particularly important for movements like Black Lives Matter, whose interest involves issues that will come into everyone’s life at one point or another. Regardless of race, gender, or class, inequality is ubiquitous in society and students should be educated about the experiences of other people so they can better handle discrimination.

Having an active Black Lives Matter movement, specifically on a college campus, not only helps fight for equality, but it also gives people the ability to learn about the experiences of others and grow from that.

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