UPDATED: 4:43 p.m., Friday
The silence was deafening across Elon University’s campus Friday afternoon, from Moseley to Alamance to Alumni Gym.
Traffic stopped on North O’Kelly, East Haggard and South Williamson Avenues. Some classes ended early. Signs that read “Am I Next?” and “End White Silence” were held high.
Hundreds, many dressed in all black, marched around Elon in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, days after police officer-involved deaths rocked Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte. The lives of Terrence Crutcher and Keith Scott, African-American men killed by police officers, stood on the minds of those in attendance, bringing with them feelings of frustration, anger and confusion.
But with this march came hope.
“When I first walked out and crossed the street, and looked back,” said junior Alonzo Cee, “I was so shocked to see how many people were actually walking in solidarity with us, supporting us.
“I’m a horrible person in terms of crying. I don’t cry often. But that almost brought me to tears.”
Junior Kaelyn Green and other organizers with Black Student Union were overwhelmed by the attendance, an emotional crowd that included, among others, Provost Steven House, Town of Elon Police Chief Cliff Parker, University Police Chief Dennis Franks and Burlington Mayor Ian Baltutis.
As the event ended on the front steps of Moseley, Green shared bear hugs with friends and faculty members, who told her “I’m so proud of you.”
“I can’t believe it worked,” Green, fighting back tears, said to one staff member.
“So many people thought this was a good idea,” Green said. “So many people helped me and contributed. To hear people say, ‘I’m proud of you for putting this together,’ means it’s successful.”
Green was the architect of the march, which began in McKinnon Hall with video of the Tulsa shooting playing on a video screen. From there, the participants marched in front of Inman Admissions Welcome Center, up North O’Kelley Avenue and into Historic Neighborhood.
As the hundreds crossed East Haggard Avenue, several cars honked their horns, and some drivers yelled, “All lives matter.”
Those shouts were overshadowed, though, by the silence as the group passed Fonville Fountain and McEwen, and a black man driving honked and raised his fist out his car window on North Williamson Avenue.
“We needed to be silent so people knew we were serious, that this isn’t a game, this isn’t a show,” said junior Alexis Williams, president of Black Student Union. “This is real life.”
The event was publicized across social media all week, and, in an email, Elon President Leo Lambert commended BSU’s efforts and encouraged students to attend.
The Council on Civic Engagement is also sponsoring a panel discussion Monday in the McBride Gathering Space to examine current events and their implications.
Green implored students to attend that panel, and continue the good that came from Friday’s march.
“I feel so much more confident in Elon,” Green said. “I feel confident in our community. I really think, going forward, we have a great foundation to build something really good. Hopefully, we can make a change.”
This story will be updated.
ORIGINAL STORY, 3:42 p.m. Friday
More than 300 students, faculty and community members marched around campus Friday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after police officer-involved shooting deaths this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte.
Organized by junior Kaelyn Green and the Black Student Union, the silent march began in Moseley and wrapped through Historic Neighborhood, by Alumni Gym before ending in front of Moseley.
There, Green, BSU President and junior Alexis Williams, Provost Steven House and University Chaplain Jan Fuller all spoke.
"Today, we made an accomplishment," Green said. "Today, our silence was loud, our black was solid and our unity was strong."