At 1 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, Boston College students gathered outside of Gasson Hall for a “die in” protest to remember and reflect on last year’s Silence is STILL Violence solidarity march. Thousands of BC students and faculty participated in the march on October 20, 2017, in response to racist incidents on campus as well as a broader culture of institutional silence towards racial injustices.
Thursday’s die-in began when students assembled in the quad, silently linking arms and laying down across the walkway in front of Gasson. Around 100 students participated in the protest, with many more students and faculty standing quietly around the outside.
During the protest, faculty members in support of the demonstration passed out flyers explaining that a year after the initial Silence is STILL Violence march, black BC students still experience a culture of racism fueled by the University’s silence.
“Black Eagles continue to be subject to various forms of oppression upheld through a culture [of] institutional passivity,” the flyer read.
It also described the die-in demonstration as “a form of non-violent direct action protest, in which participants pretend to die to highlight the magnitude to which racism is and can be violent."
Many of the protestors wore duct tape over their mouths to symbolize the BC administration’s unwillingness to speak out or take action in support of black students. Some also held signs displaying messages like “Black Lives Matter” and “Expose and Expel Racism”.
Students hummed “We Shall Overcome” during the die-in, but were otherwise silent until the protest concluded at 2 p.m. At the conclusion, students rose from the ground and removed the tape from their mouths. Before going their separate ways, protestors joined in song for a final verse of “We Shall Overcome”.
The flyer distributed at the die-in emphasized that the march’s year anniversary is a critical time for the BC community to reflect, come together, and remind students, faculty, and the administration “not only why Silence is Still Violence, but more simply that Black Lives Matter, and more specifically Black Eagles Matter.”
One student protestor, Naya Joseph, CSOM ’19, describes the significance of the event. “The purpose of this die-in was really to say that the University has been too quiet,” she explains. “After 365 days, we expected a greater response and a greater change amongst administrators and faculty and in the campus climate.”
“We haven’t forgotten why we organized a year ago," she says, "and we’re not going to stop organizing until we see change."