As part of Black History Month, the Black Graduate Students
Association will be putting on a dramatic lynching re-enactment
today in Bruin Plaza, followed by an art display and panel
discussion.

The lynching re-enactment will start outside Powell Library,
where a “death march” will also be re-enacted. A
student playing the role of the victim will act as if they are
being dragged by a mob to their “lynching,” which will
take place in Bruin Plaza.

BGSA President Theri Pickens said actual physical violence will
not be a part of the re-enactment, and the performance is intended
to convey the “anger of the mob and the threat of
violence.”

Pickens said the purpose of the day’s events focusing on
the topic of lynching is “to provoke dialogue and discussion
about an issue that so many people are silent about, either out of
fear or ignorance.” She said many people are unaware of the
history of lynchings in the United States.

Lynching is defined as executing without legal process. It often
occurred in the South beginning during Reconstruction after the
Civil War.

Karume James, president of the African Student Union, said
organizers wanted to illustrate the suffering of blacks throughout
American history.

“People tend to overlook how much of an oppression African
Americans faced in our country,” he said. “Violence
against African people didn’t just end with lynching. There
are much deeper and complex issues at hand.”

Later tonight, a panel discussion will be held during which
African American studies Professor Paul Von Blum and Berky Nelson,
director of the Center for Student Programming, will speak on the
history of lynching and its impact on African people in
society.

“As a historian, my job is to talk about the past, and I
am a firm believer that if people are enlightened, they can make
steps to engage in some kind of constructive action,” Nelson
said.

The discussion will be preceded by a photographic art display,
showcasing photos of images from lynchings. The photos are part of
a collection from different museums as well as photo albums of
families.

“The art display serves to provide viewers with a time for
contemplation and personal reflection,” Pickens said.

The art display will open at 6 p.m. in Dodd 167, and the
panel discussion will follow at 6:30.