By BETHANY SHERROW
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Senior digital media production major Briana Blocker wanted to create a place on campus to freely discuss race relations, so she did.
Blocker said she is passionate about social justice and wants everyone to have their voices heard, so she created a program called All Lives Matter? to help give everyone a voice. All Lives Matter? is a weeklong program scheduled for Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 with multiple events that will focus on racial issues people face on a daily basis.
Blocker said when she initially posted her idea to have an event in Warrensburg on social media, she got negative responses, but her mom encouraged her to keep going.
“So I came up with a week full of events, and it started off as just a little idea,” Blocker said.
Blocker was able to partner with the campus Africana Studies Leadership Council, and she said they’ve been helpful in planning the program.
The first event, History in the Black-ground!, will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29, in Union 236. Participants are encouraged to wear all black.
“We’ll kind of have a forum, we’ll have speakers, we’ll have some videos and just talk about what I expect to get out of this week and what I want people to take from it,” Blocker said.
Blocker was able to get UCM President Chuck Ambrose involved in the week’s events. He will moderate a discussion panel at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, in Wood 100.
Blocker said the panel will be comprised of black students, two police officers and hopefully someone from UCM Public Safety. She said she attempted to reach out to faculty members to be part of the forum, but was unable to find participants.
The week of events also includes Black Wall Street! at noon Wednesday, Aug. 31, in the Union atrium near Jazzman’s Coffee shop and Black Men Naked Truth at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, in Union 237B.
Blocker wants to extend an invitation to the week’s events to everyone, including the Warrensburg community, because she said her ultimate goal is to raise awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s not to place blame on anybody. It’s not a Black Lives Matter against All Lives Matter against Blue Lives Matter,” Blocker said. “It’s ‘Our lives matter too.’ And that’s all we’re trying to get across to you all. We understand that everybody’s lives matter. We just want to also let you guys know our lives matter because sometimes our lives can go unnoticed. And that’s all.”
Blocker wants the event to be an open dialogue.
“I definitely want people to talk,” Blocker said. “I want, first and foremost, people to understand that it’s a safe place. I don’t want anybody to feel attacked. I want everybody to know that whatever you say here stays here, and when we leave the room, we can all still be friends. We can still be cordial. I may have a different opinion than you, and you may have a different opinion than me, but we have to agree to disagree and be one.”
Blocker said she is seeking active participants and is hoping for a great turnout. She wants to emphasize that simply coming and sitting at the event is not enough.
“A lot of times people will see injustice and they won’t say anything about it,” Blocker said. “If you see something happening, speak up about it. And that’s one thing I want to happen for next week: participation.”