COLUMBIA — As the protesters marched through MU's campus Wednesday some raised one fist in the air. Some raised both hands in symbolic surrender. Some raised signs bearing messages such as "Justice for Mike Brown." But all were silent.
The Hands Up, Don't Shoot march was planned by various MU groups and organizations, including the Legion of Black Collegians and the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center. It was held to remember Michael Brown, but many protesters hope the march will do more than that. They saw it as a call to action and a way for community members to coalesce around ideas bigger than any one person.
The silence was a choice. Protesters didn't want anything to distract from the march itself.
"Our presence alone should stir up the community around us, so we wanted to be visible," said Naomi Daugherty, one of the organizers of the event.
MU senior Briana Sparks emphasized that the events in Ferguson should concern everyone.
"I want people to realize that this is a people issue," Sparks said. "Not a black issue or an ageist issue, but a people issue."
Freshman Sammie Arnold saw the march as a way to empower those who often feel left out of the national conversation.
"The march shows us as American citizens have a voice," he said. "A lot of people overlook that and think their voice doesn't matter."
Ashley Bland, a junior who helped organize the march, stressed that young people have more power than they sometimes realize.
"Even as students we can be active in legislation and make changes," she said.
Junior Corie Wilkins saw the protest at MU as part of a larger, longer national struggle.
"I hope that the march has the same impact as marches in big cities have had in the past, to show our solidarity," Wilkins said. "Not necessarily that we're marching in the same place, but that we're marching for the same goals."
The organizations involved with the protest on Wednesday are planning future events as well, including a joint trip to a town hall meeting.
"This is one of many things we're going to do," Sparks said. "This is just the beginning."
Supervising editor is Landon Woodroof.