Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matters activists were invited to speak last quarter on December 4th, 2015 at the Broadway

Performance Hall. The event was coordinated in solidarity by faculty members and the Seattle Central

College’s Student Leadership. The event was well-received by a nearly full crowd made up of mostly stu-
dents, staff and a few supportive community members.

John Martinez, a member of a teachers union, shared a public statement prepared by the AFT Human

and Civil Rights Committee and Executive Board titled “We oppose anti Muslim and anti refugee rhet-
oric”, in light of the rise in anti muslim hate and bigotry in the media after the November 2015 terrorist

attacks in Lebanon, France and Mali. The rise in comments add to the terror oppression and fear of im-
migrants, refugees, muslims and people of color. The main point of the message was to urge students,

staff and faculty to take a stand against these kinds of statements.

Then it was time for Mara Jacqueline Wallaford and Marissa Johnson, who spoke about their work as po-
litical agitators. The two gained national recognition as leaders of the local BLM movement, after shutting

down a rally intended for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. They reflected on the you-
tube video of the Sanders incident and were able to highlight the crowds vulgar response. Johnson said

that they initially wanted to orient Sanders to what they consider Seattle’s long history of discrimination

and violence towards people of color. The message to Sanders might have been missed but because the

demonstration was so controversial it did start the discussion regardless if people agreed with the #BLM


After a year of political agitation, the two have taken a step back from high visibility work. Their position

has changed drastically since the national publicity. Johnson spoke on being “More calculated”, and

finding ways to get groups to come together in solidarity now that the BLM has gone global and is recog-
nized to include all people of color. Although people expect them to do Bernie Sanders type actions they

have realized that the work they do is not sustainable and very dangerous. Over the past year they have

learned a tremendous amount of knowledge that they would like to pass on. They now want to focus on

empowering and teaching students and young people hoping that “new leader will rise up and take their


By Joshua Byrd


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