In commemoration of the one-year anniversary May 25 of the killing of George Floyd, the leaders of Washington University in St. Louis’ Center for Diversity and Inclusion planted Black Lives Matter flags on the Brookings Hall lawn.
The flags were planted in the shape of 9:29 in recognition of the nine minutes and 29 seconds that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd. A jury on April 20 convicted Chauvin of murder in Floyd’s death.
Mark Kamimura-Jiménez, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, said the act of planting the flags was — fittingly and surprisingly — harder than expected.
“The grass is thick and the ground is hard,” said Kamimura-Jiménez, whose staff was assisted by Facilities employees. “That is symbolic of the Black Lives Matter struggle. But that hard work must start here. Students at Washington University will go on to influence organizations, businesses and government. Our nation has and will be shaped by the students who walk on this campus.”
Kamimura-Jiménez joined the CDI not long before Floyd’s death and has spent the past year supporting students through virtual programming and conversations. Kamimura-Jiménez urged the university community to continue its reckoning with racism’s legacy on campus and in the country.
“Our generation will be defined by how we responded to the awakening around race that unveiled the deadly reality of anti-Blackness,” Kamimura-Jiménez said. “What Ahmaud, Breonna and George’s lynchings revealed as discovery for many in our society was already known intimately by communities of color. Most importantly, the depths of racism had silently continued to seep into the crevices of our society, poisoning how we think, learn, understand and engage with each other.”