“This is a response to the war on black America and that’s why we did it,” she said. “It wasn’t just about Charlotte.”
Over 1,000 students and faculty attended the protest at N.C. A&T — including most of the political science department, whose members showed up together at 10 p.m. to join the rally, Vandergrift said.
“People came out just to be able to look at someone who looks like them and say ‘I love you, and I see you, and we’re in this together, and we’re all scared but we’re going to fight through this,’” she said.
HBCUs play an important role in the Black Lives Matter movement, said Ajamu Dillahunt, a student organizer at NCCU.
“We know that if we really want to bring about transformation in our community, HBCUs play a vital role,” he said. “HBCUs are fired up — we’re doing this as our obligation to keep our rich history of student engagement alive.”
Dillahunt said the protest at NCCU focused on the next steps to be taken within the black community — especially ones so close to home.
“Durham is not absent from this national epidemic of police killings,” he said.
In an email released Thursday, Chancellor Carol Folt said the events in Charlotte were saddening and encouraged constructive and peaceful dialogue on campus instead of the violence prevalent around the country.
Black University takes inspiration from prominent student organizations during the civil rights era such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, said Dillahunt.
Vandergrift said the group's most important principle is youth involvement.
“The youth have always led these movements ... I think there’s a little bit of a misconception that it has to be these old, cisgendered heterosexual black men leading this movement, and that’s not the case,” she said.