On April 9, an email was sent out to all of campus by Reverend Abby Mohaupt–a Drew Seminary student and a member of the Transforming Environmental and Religious Resources into Actions (TERRA) Caucus of Drew’s Theology School–regarding the defacement of a Black Lives Matter sign that was hung in the main area of the Drew Theology building.
The sign, which was made by Mohaupt and Drew Theological Seminary’s Black Ministerial Caucus (BMC) Vice President Reverend Nicolle Harris, was initially hung during fall orientation in a show of solidarity with the late-August March on Washington according to Reverend Harris. The sign was first found defaced on March 23 during spring break when most residents were away. The sign originally read “Black Lives Matter” in bold black lettering on a white background as well as featuring the signatures of students spread around the outside of the main lettering. But when the sign was found over spring break, the word “Black” was crossed out and replaced by the word “All.”
Four days after the initial graffiti, BMC went public through a post on Reverend Harris’s Facebook account. In the post, Reverend Harris said that when she was asked if they should take the sign down, she replied by saying, “No, to take it down is to hide from the issue and you can’t solve an issue that’s hidden.”
Reverend Harris said when she first heard of the signs’ defacement she was “saddened,” then continued by saying, “I want to say I was surprised but not really. I’m so used to things happening these days that, you know, when stuff happens you just roll with it.”
When asked about the delay in the public announcement, Harris said, “It was definitely something that I wanted to address.”
“Once I found out about it, I just took a moment to sit in silence and think ‘okay how do I address this matter’ because it wasn’t something we were just going to sweep under the rug.”
The BMC has announced they will be holding an open forum to discuss issues of equality and address the debate between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter.
“We want people to come who believe in both sides because that way the conversation will be more productive,” Harris said about the forum. “We want folks to know it’s a welcoming environment, and, I can’t promise it won’t get heated, but it won’t be hostile. We want to hear what everyone has to say.”
For what she wants to see happen in response to the issue, she said, “I want to see honest dialogue, so this doesn’t happen again.” She continued, saying, “Not just for a Black Lives Matter sign, but for anyone’s sign. Drew should be a safe place for everyone to share in social justice.”
The forum will take place on Wednesday April 25 at noon in Seminary 101.
Image Courtesy of The Drew Black Ministerial Caucus