Rabiyatu Jalloh, a sophomore majoring in Secondary Education and African American Studies took first place in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Week Speak for Peace: Social Justice Reception and Oratorial Contest. In her speech, Jalloh touched on the important of the liberation of all black people, including women and those who identify as LGBTQA+.
Check out her speech in full below:
Good Evening Everyone,
And Thank You to Commemoration Committee, the Judges and the Brothers of the Mighty Gamma Nu Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Inc. for giving me the opportunity to speak at this event.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement began after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the death of unarmed seventeen year old Trayvon Martin. The movement organized protest for the unjust killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and many other names. BlackLivesMatter utilized social media in order to commemorate and bring awareness and humanity to the lives of people who were killed unjustly by public officials. Personally, I know that this movement helped open my eyes to the systematic racism that is in place against people of color in this country. However, when people say Black Lives Matter, they almost exclusively mean only #Black Males Lives Matter. Everyone knows names like Michael Brown or Sean Bell or Oscar Grant, which we should. However, when it comes to names of women who have been killed by law enforcement, there are crickets.
In May 2015 the African American Policy Forum, or AAPF, released a report that was titled Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality against Black Women. The SayHerName movement is a gender inclusive movement that protests police brutality and sexual violence against black women in the United States. This movement highlights the ways in which gender comes into play when addressing the violence against black women, queer, transgender people.. This movement also has a social media presence, with the hashtag #SayHerName. The SayHerName movement works to address the invisibilization of black women in mainstream media and the Black Lives Matter movement. The strive to commemorate the women who lost their lives to police brutality and on May 20 2015, the AAPF along with twenty local sponsors and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School, organized a vigil in New York City. This vigil was fundamental to the progression of this social injustice movement because it was one of the first times black women were the center of attention.
On a warm summer day in McKinney Texas a young black teenage girl was slammed into the ground by a police officer at a pool party. There was national outrage. In a South Carolina at Spring Valley High School a black girl was body slammed by a school police officer. There was national outrage. In July Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell after a violent confrontation with a law enforcement officer. Again, there was outrage. These stories are familiar to us, but what many people may not know, is that Sandra was not the only woman that was found dead in police custody in the month of July 2015. Other women included in the cycle of police brutality include Raynette Turner, Joyce Curnell, Ralkina Jones, and Kindra Chapman.
WE MUST SAY THEIR NAMES
We must also examine the sexism in these movements and in the Civil Rights movement in order to keep moving forward. It is no secret that during the fight for civil rights many leaders had sexist and chauvinistic ideas, they believed that women had a place in society which was taking care of children and the household. However women still found a place in the movement. Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Daisy Bates, Josephine Baker, Angela Davis, Shirley Chisholm, Septima Clark, Dorothy Height. These women I just named are the epitome of black girl magic and black excellence. Without these women and countless others, the fight for equality would not have moved forward.
WE MUST SAY THEIR NAMES
WE MUST ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR WORK
Say Her Name keeps us moving forward because it reminds us that our communities need to start talking about the issues that black women are facing. Our stories has stayed on the back burner for far too long. In order to keep moving forward we need to address the biases that we have and be more empathetic to people regardless of they are. Sexual and physical violence against black women and is completely unacceptable. When people are able to walk in their truth, and find the freedom in themselves we should allow that.
BLACK WOMEN MATTER and it’s time that we start acknowledging that
We cannot be for the liberation of black people if we are not for the liberation of all black people. We cannot unlink chains for one person without doing the same for all. We must practice empathy and acceptance. We must highlight the injustices of everyone.
Because of the SayHerName movement we can keep moving forward.