Last Tuesday, tri-co students and members of the community packed Thomas Great Hall to hear Janaya Khan, founder of #BlackLivesMatter Toronto, speak at Bryn Mawr as part of the Black History Month Speaker Series.
According to the event description, Kahn is a “black, queer, gender-nonconforming activist, staunch Afrofuturist, social-justice educator, and boxer based in Toronto.” Khan was invited to speak as well as take part in a question-and-answer session by Sisterhood, the tri-co chapter of the NAACP, the Enid Cook Center Committee, and The Pensby Center.
Khan discussed the origins of #BlackLivesMatter and its place in history. Khan emphasized that #BlackLivesMatter “started from a place of love,” as the movement got its name from a love letter.
“This is not a moment; this is a movement,” Khan stated.
Khan referenced the Civil Rights Movement throughout the talk and reminded the audience that this year marks 50 years since the Black Panther Party was founded. According to Khan, if you have ever wondered how you would have responded to events in the ‘60s, you “don’t need to wonder—it’s happening now.”
Khan also noted one of the challenges the movement faces: activists must address an entire belief system, rather than one particular institution. However, Khan expressed hope for change to come, stating, “I imagine a future where black people are in it.”
According to Khan, #BlackLivesMatter has 28 chapters and is growing into a global movement. In order to expand the movement further, Khan urged people to intervene against racism.
“#BlackLivesMatter was our intervention; what’s yours?” asked Khan.