“Seek peace, harvest justice.”
These were the words chanted by hundreds of Taylor students as they marched around Taylor’s campus for the Say Their Names Unity March.
Sophomore Liannah Foster was one of the driving forces behind the Sept. 10 march.
After seeing the events of this summer unfold on TV and social media, Foster prayed and asked God what she could do to respond to it on campus.
“I wanted to start the semester off with something peaceful, something good that we can all be a part of, and to celebrate black lives and people of color, but to also honor those who have passed and to support those who are still going through their struggles,” Foster said.
Dressed in all black, students, staff and members of the Upland community came and gathered on the LaRita Boren Campus Center patio at 4:30 p.m. in anticipation of the march.
Foster said her intention behind organizing the march was to give God the glory before anything else. She wanted to stress the importance of keeping prayer at the center and focusing on how to make Taylor a safer space for all.
“This march does not focus on the violence, this march focuses on how we as a Taylor community can come together and make this a safe space for everybody to voice whatever they need to say and to feel comfortable being here with their brothers and sisters in Christ,” Foster said. “We cannot and should not ignore the violence that has been going on but we also should not ignore the fact that God is giving us an opportunity to learn to unite and to live in peace amongst everybody.”
The march followed the Vayhinger Loop, a complete circle around campus, starting and ending at the patio. Students from the Black Student Union and Foster herself took charge of leading, walking down the sidewalk and chanting the phrases “United we stand, divided we fall” and “I’m a child of God, I fear no evil.”
During the march, the line of participants stretched from the Campus Center down to the Hodson Dining Commons.
Though the march was met with overwhelming support, participants were witness to a “Trump 2020” flag being dropped down from a window in Samuel Morris Hall. However, this was not met with any retaliation by marchers.
For junior Hollie Meyers, this event reminded her of a quote she heard years ago: “We rejoice with you while you suffer with us.”
“Ever since I heard that line I have been in an active pursuit of looking at what it looks like to rejoice with and to suffer with the body of Christ,” Meyers said. “So, today, that looks like doing that with the Taylor community here and pursuing the Taylor black community and knowing that I see the wounded part, I see the hurt and that I am going to take action to stand with and suffer with and walk alongside with them.
The march ended with prayer and worship. Holding back tears, Foster thanked everyone for coming out to support them.
Her biggest hope for this march is that people could see God working on campus through it.
“I would like everybody to come together and understand that we're going through a tough time and there are a lot of us that witness it firsthand,” Foster said. “I would just like everybody to come and be supportive and not feel that it's something that you're forced to go to. But because we are all God's people, we all should feel affected the same way, because this is hurting.”
Sophomore De’Arriss Hope led the group in worship by singing the chorus of the song “No Weapon.”
Hope also emphasized that the purpose behind events like these doesn't just stop when the event ends.
“One thing we must not lose focus of is that this is only a symbolic victory, the only way we can continue to make those changes is by being the change,” Hope said. “We have a lot of future doctors out here, future politicians, future anything, we need to spread this information… onto everyone around us to make changes. Don’t let this stop here.”