Khadijah Forrest, The Black Bear – During the Spring 2014 semester at Missouri State, students organized I Too Am MSU, a campaign to give voice to the black population on campus.
Sequena Tate and Derell DeRamus were the masterminds behind this initiative. “I wanted to create a dialogue between all students – not just black students – but all students,” said Tate.
Her vision was to bring knowledge about stereotypes and the separation of the African-American students to the campus. Digital media and film production major Ryan Johnson, recalled the initiative agreeing with Tate.
“I feel that the community is segregated to a certain extent. More and more people are quiet about it and don’t want to talk about it,” Johnson said.
The campaign took place at various times on campus where students would get their picture taken holding a dry erase board with a message written by them or a quote someone else said to them.
One participant, Jakobi Connor, wrote “Both my parents have Master’s Degrees” to show that not all blacks are first generation college students and some come from educated families.
Another student, Morgan Clark, wrote “‘I don’t date black girls because they all are obnoxious, mean, and wear weave’ says black boy”.
She said it irritates her to know someone who would comment something like that. “Not all, but there’s a good number of black men that think that about us [black women],” Clark said.
‘I, Too, Am MSU’ was inspired by ‘I, Too, Am Harvard’ which was a similar campaign created at Harvard University to illustrate the experiences of black students on the campus through a collection of photos posted on Tumblr.
Shannon Shellner, who helped coordinate the I Too Am MSU campaign, said, “I think it was a great idea. I’m glad people came to support the cause. We wanted to let Missouri State know we [African-Americans] are here and it’s our school too.”
The pictures and videos recorded from the campaign will be posted later this semester. Tate also shared that another I Too Am MSU campaign is in the works for the Spring 2015 semester.