By Imani Jennings, EN (Oklahoma State University)
This week, we are excited to feature Imani Jennings, EN (Oklahoma State University), a third-year student majoring in political science with aspirations to study nonprofit management. Imani helped organize a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, last summer because she wanted other Black sisters to feel important, loved and heard.
Phi Mu has helped me grow as a woman over the last three years and without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My sisters have inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. Before I talk about my experience co-hosting a Black Lives Matter demonstration, I would like to thank my sisters for supporting me throughout the process: their love and encouragement was a key factor in my decision to take on this incredible opportunity.
In June of 2020, I was asked to co-host a demonstration for Black lives by a friend from high school, Travis Allen. Travis and I had not kept in touch and at first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it because I have anxiety and big crowds make me nervous. I was also afraid of what people were going to think of me. Going to a predominantly white institution (PWI) and being involved in predominantly white organizations left me wondering how others would react to me hosting an event like this.
Although I was hesitant, I reflected on how important it is for people understand that Black Lives Matter is about showing compassion and love for the Black community and bringing justice to the victims of police brutality. That is when I decided to show my support and agreed to co-host the demonstration to educate the community on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Before the rally, Travis and I met with the Chief of Police for the Sand Springs Police Department and other community leaders. They were very supportive, which made the planning process go smoothly! Travis and I even had the opportunity to be interviewed by news stations from Tulsa about the importance of our event.
Co-organizing this rally was eye-opening for me. We had multiple speakers including Oklahoma House Representative Regina Goodwin and Sand Springs Chief of Police Mike Carter and also a vocalist. Dr. André Fredieu, an interventional neurologist in Tulsa, explained the process of George Floyd’s death from a medical perspective. Even my grandma spoke about her experiences, which made this demonstration very special to me on a personal level. I loved hearing everyone share their perspectives on the Black Lives Matter movement and how it has changed them.
If I was asked to co-host a Black Lives Matter rally again, I would do it in a heartbeat! I believe it is important to educate people on racial injustice and police brutality and how they affect the politics and emotions of this country. To me, this movement is about making sure people understand that Black Lives Matter is not about saying no one else is important, rather it’s making sure the Black community feels safe, loved, important and heard. I could not have done this without the support of my friends, family and sisters – these are the people who gave me the confidence to step up and make a difference in my community. For my Phi Mu sisters across the country who may feel unheard or underrepresented, I want you to know that there are people working hard to make you feel seen and that you have sisters who are here to listen and support you through the difficult times. I encourage you to do whatever you can to raise awareness and educate those around you.