MU sophomore Daimontre Yancy had attended a variety of marches and protests for Black Lives Matter, but he always felt that something was missing.
“I noticed that some people were not out there for the right reasons,” Yancy says. “They were not structured and they had no purpose. So, I saw that some people just thought that protests were as simple as just saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ and marching.”
Yancy created Birth Of A Revolution, a June 14 march from Francis Quadrangle to the Boone County Courthouse. The name is a spinoff of the 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation,” known for its anti-Blackness, racism and colorism.
Yancy says other events ignored the fact that multiple Black Americans had died in a short time period. He wanted to create a space for Black people to speak openly about what continues to happen across the country. The march highlighted local Black activists, and Black women in particular.
“We talked about the Black women that were killed and the Say Her Name [movement],” Yancy says. “We talked about Black female liberation and feminism, and we also didn't exclude any Black person. Because George Floyd is just one of the millions of murders.”
Yancy is not active on social media, but he posted about Birth Of A Revolution on Facebook in order to spread the word. Despite his small following, nearly 500 people attended the protest.
Yancy says he doesn’t post online for social gain — rather, to create change and speak his mind, because he will say the same things in person as he does on social media.
Some teens, though, use social media as their primary form of activism. Platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat allow Generation Z to share their views with people they might never reach otherwise.
According to Jazmin Burrell, creative strategist for Snap Inc. and an MU alumna, today’s teens care more about social justice and finding out the truth than previous generations.
“A lot of older people think that Gen Z cares about the election, but they really don't,” Burrell says. “They don’t like these candidates — they don’t like Trump, they don’t like Biden — they really care about their local governments and making changes in those immediate environments, but older people don't understand that yet because they still think the way they think.”
Burrell says that social media allows users to watch unfiltered content in real-time.
“Once the riots started happening, that’s all the news coverage was,” Burrell says. “I live in New York City and they are protesting every day since George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, but that’s not getting [news] coverage anymore. Social media shows you that people still care regardless of big corporations.”
Burrell graduated from MU in 2015, majoring in strategic communication with an emphasis in account management. In September 2015, she wrote an open letter to MU through BuzzFeed, in which she discussed the University’s past with racism as well as the concerns of herself and other students.
In the letter, Burrell writes that “this is NOT a letter about a specific incident on campus. It's about the administration and your lack of care for current students that's been going on for decades.”
Since June, MU students and alumni have taken to social media with the hashtags #BlackAtMizzou and #StillConcerned. In 2015, Concerned Student 1950 issued their list of demands to MU. The new hashtags were used to share the stories of Black MU students and remind the University that change had not been made.