Black Lives Matter co-founder speaks at Webster


Patrisse Cullors is a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. On Feb. 24, Cullors spoke as a keynote speaker at Webster’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion conference.

Over 2,000 people registered for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion conference this year. Associate dean of students Colette Cummings reported this at the opening of “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Dialogue with Patrisse Cullors.” As the hour-long segment went by, the number of attendees rose from 75 to 140 in a matter of minutes.

The segment featured Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and two moderators: students Grace Gilliam and CJ Berry.

The two moderators interviewed Cullors about her work, beginning with her book “When They Call You A Terrorist.”

Cullors created a young adult’s version of the book and when asked about the decision by Gilliam, Cullors explained she felt it was necessary to provide a separate book for the age group.

“Young people are often told they have no agency to change things,” Cullors said at the conference. “So my work can tell them they do have the power.”

Cullors fielded questions from the audience, as well. The questions for Cullors ranged in topics such as: how to be a better white ally, what Cullors would say to accusations of BLM being Marxist or antifa, what her favorite thing is about being Black and how to have a conversation with your loved ones about BLM.

Cullors also advised the audience earlier in the session about how they can impact change.

“We can’t just be good people,” Cullors advised. “We need to change the institutions.”

Assistant professor of music and director of music education Stuart Chapman-Hill led a discussion in an earlier session on changing the institution in “Leading and Doing: Anti-racist Curriculum Review and Redesign.” The session hosted Chapman-Hill, fellow music education professors and students.

Another panel was “My Space is Your Space” led by Student Government Association (SGA) President Sarah Hill and Vice President Jessica Battle. The two women discussed the recent Youth in Leadership conference hosted. Hill and Battle were not the only two SGA panelists of the day, however. “Voices of Diversity: Global Student Leaders” hosted Yatina Katunga, an SGA graduate senator, along with other student leaders from Webster’s international campuses.

Alex Tha Great, a spoken word artist, preceded Cullors by performing multiple poems then taking questions from the audience. Then, at 7 p.m., it was time for Cullors to speak with Webster.

Gilliam, the moderator for the discussion with Cullors, was grateful for the opportunity to moderate the discussion with Culllors. 

“[Cullors] is so influential to so many communities,” Gilliam said. “I am so glad we got to have her here at the Webster University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion conference as I believe she embodies all of these things.”

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