Black Lives Tribute fuses arts, activism

By Jay Ibarra

The students in the Black Lives Matter Tribute Concert focused their time and energy into persuading the NIU community to put a stop to racial injustice on Wednesday through original performances.

The concept for the Black Lives Matter tribute concert was inspired by racial injustices that have occurred at school, said Linnea Norwood, senior dance major and show choreographer.

“… It’s fighting against racism. It’s fighting against the systems of oppression that [continue] to bring us down, it’s people. It’s to show that black lives matter as well,” said Randiss Hopkins, senior jazz piano major and lead coordinator for the concert.

The concert featured students carrying out the Black Lives Matter movement’s values through original pieces in song, dance and poetry. The performances revisited decades of culture, performing both original and popular works. Hopkins said performers practiced for more than a month for the show. He said he was inspired by the relevancy of the Black Lives Matter movement to create this tribute show.

“What we noticed is that no matter how you look, no matter what race you are, no matter what your major was, one thing that we all had in common was, is that we all struggled in life in some way, no matter where we were from,” Hopkins said.

Reggie Bates, Student Association Vice President, said the show’s participants, which were made up of individuals of different backgrounds, constantly discuss how they were treated unfairly and how the show will impact the audience.

“There’s a lot of situations of discrimination that have taken place due to me being a black male,” Bates said. “Just last week me and one of my fraternity brothers… were riding to work and we got pulled over by the DeKalb Police and without asking for [a] name, an ID or anything, the first thing question they ask is, ‘Do you have a gun?’” Bates said.

Bates said he was able to brush off the situation with the police, but a serious matter occurred when one of his Black Male Initiative brothers, former NIU student Quintonio LeGrier, 19, was shot six times by a Chicago police officer who was responding to a 911 dispatch call of domestic disturbance on Dec. 26.

“That was someone who I personally recruited to be a member for Black Male Initiative, someone who I had every day interactions with, as we give our yearly message of ‘Everyone be safe and come back next semester.’ I was at his funeral before the semester started,” Bates said.