Junior John Montgomery is in a movement—not for himself, but for his friends, his family and his classmates.
As a member of the Office of Inclusion and Diversity, Montgomery is taking every step necessary to bring change to the country.
When he discovered National Blackout Day, what he called a “national day of mourning and solidarity of awareness about the many social injustices that are presently occurring,” Montgomery said he immediately brought it to Director of Diversity and Inclusion Terri Roberts.
Roberts decided to run with Montgomery’s idea.
Through the hashtag, #FCBlackout, students, staff and faculty members shared photos on social media of themselves dressed in all black. The day came just one week after 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, a black male, was shot and killed by a Tulsa police officer during a traffic stop.
“You walk down Dame Mall, and you see ten people wearing the same color all together—you generally get that it’s for a purpose,” Montgomery said. “It starts conversations all over, not only on the campus, but around the country when days like this happen.”
Ann Gilly, who graduated in 2015 and is a former Student Association for the Support of Multiculturalism president, participated in last Friday’s event at her workplace.
For Gilly, the day represented a time of solidarity for injustice—specifically, racial injustice.
“I wanted to encourage alumni to stay active in the issues that are facing Franklin,” Gilly said. “We know the issues of racial injustice are affecting everyone and everything at all times.”
One alumnus voiced their opinion through a Facebook status Friday morning, disagreeing with the college’s participation of the movement.
After naming six non-black, unarmed citizens killed by police within the last year, the alumnus said no action was taken by the media, nor the college.
“I would understand if Franklin College performed #FCTogether or even #FCAllLivesMatter,” the alumnus said in the status. “But to segregate this country even more by insinuating that only blacks are killed by police wrongfully is ludicrous.”
The alumnus did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.
Shortly following the college’s participation in the national day of awareness, a few Franklin College football players, a coach and three members of the men’s chorus raised their fists during the playing of the National Anthem.
Players honored local law enforcement officers before the start of the game, raising their helmets in memory of Franklin College alum Nick Schultz, a former officer killed in the line of duty in 2014.
“When [law enforcement] got that recognition, when they were calling their names on the field and being presented in front of everybody, we did nothing to take away from their moment and their spotlight and what they were there for,” said junior Darrell Crenshaw. “When they were acknowledged, we took nothing away from them, but when we had our own opportunity to voice our opinion of how we felt, we just took advantage of that opportunity without being disrespectful.”
Crenshaw and junior Jeffontae McClain, both football players, raised their fists during the singing of the anthem Saturday.
“What the protest is is to show America and to show people, and contribute to the movement that we just want justice,” McClain said. “We’re tired of injustice … hinting on police brutality mainly. What we are hoping to accomplish by this is that we can get people other than minorities to see this, we can get them to stand with us.”
Montgomery, a men’s chorus member, joined Crenshaw and McClain in raising his fist.
Head football coach Mike Leonard and Athletic Director Kerry Prather declined to comment on the issue for this article.
Crenshaw said no team members have received backlash following Saturday’s game, but they do plan to continue the movement at future games.
As for Montgomery, he hopes these movements will begin to spark a change.
“It speaks volumes of, not to say the people who participated are right or wrong, but they might have a point—they might have a voice to add to the conversation,” Montgomery said.
UPDATE: Terri Roberts commented on the event to The Franklin after the Sept. 30 issue went to print.