The United Coalition for Racial Justice (UCRJ) will host a “Speak Out” event on Tuesday, February 18 from 8 PM – 8 AM in Shapiro Undergraduate Library to protest low underrepresented minority enrollment and poor racial climate for students of color at the University of Michigan. While Provost Pollack’s recent unveiling of new UM diversity and inclusion initiatives represents an important step forward, we must continue to pursue student-led, direct civic engagement to hold the administration accountable. In the past, administrative appeals for diversity have insufficiently served students. In 1970, the University trumpeted its goal of increasing African American enrollment to 10%. Since the passage of Proposal 2 in 2006, however, African American enrollment has dropped from 6.5% in 2006 to 4.6% in 2012. To avoid repeating past mistakes, we must ensure that these new initiatives are executed transparently, with direct student participation at every phase: that the administration not only welcome our voices, but our presences at the decision table.
The UCRJ is a coalition of students, student organizations, faculty, and staff building on the momentum of racial justice activism around #BBUM and the Diag Freeze Out & Follow Up. We seek to mobilize 1,000 people for the rally. The event will begin with a student-centered open-mic speak out. Following the open-mic session, our keynote speaker will be Dr. Barbara Ransby, Professor of History, African American Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Dr. Ransby was a founding member of UM’s United Coalition Against Racism (UCAR), which made history in 1987 with a 200-student, 24-hour sit-in shutting down Fleming Hall. Through additional open-mic sessions, films and documentaries, teach-ins, and music, dance, and spoken word performances, the Speak Out will offer a space for participants to network and build grassroots-organized diversity initiatives.
*We also acknowledge that the experiences of students of color are impacted by more than race: we seek to open a dialogue around the intersections of race with class, gender, sexuality, ability, age, immigration status, and religion, to name a few possibilities.* Rather than co-opting current racial justice campaigns, the Speak Out hopes to provide an opportunity for the many different streams of activism and groups already present to voice their particular concerns at once. In doing so, we will think through student-led paths towards structural change to make the University of Michigan a more racially just and inclusive institution.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to add your student organization to our list of Speak Out supporters! And please email us for questions or more information.