SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - On June 20th, 2020, South Brunswick High School students along with Students Across New Jersey hosted a ‘Black Lives Matter’ forum at Woodlot Park on New Road. The forum consisted of speeches from black leaders and students, musical performances and booths to support African-American causes.
Mahiyah Sampson, a South Brunswick High School senior, helped to organize this event to educate the community and students. Ms. Sampson called the event a celebration of black culture and causes, and an opportunity to bring the town together.
“You see a lot of negative things in the media, and we wanted to do something that was celebratory,” Ms. Sampson said “We wanted to help people see the good things in the Black community. There are a lot of things in New Jersey that are done by Black people that people should be made aware of.”
Students operated booths at the event, each of which supported a different cause in the black community. This included a table to support local black owned businesses in New Jersey, an ACLU table which registered residents to vote, and a gallery to support local black artists. The students also set up a link tree, which attendees can scan with their phones to support a variety of black causes. That link can be found by clicking here.
The forum also had a table for black LGBTQ+ issues. Students were selling rainbow ribbons and collecting money for the Audre Lorde project, a community center which supports LGBTQ+ people of color in the New York area. Sarah Williams, a North Brunswick student, organized this table to highlight the discrimination that members of this community face, especially Black transgender women.
“The main thing is that all black lives matter and that includes people from the trans community, lesbian, gay and it is really important that we bring attention to all these groups of people,” Ms. Williams said.
Speakers at the event included Dr. Micah L. McCreary of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Bruce Morgan, the President of the NAACP in New Brunswick, and Azra Baig, a member of the South Brunswick Human Relations Commission.
Students and local activists spoke to at the forum as well, including musical performances and spoken word poetry. Ms. Williams got emotional while reading off the names of Black people who were killed by police officers, including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.