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Silent ride raises awareness of race issues

POSTED AT 11:34 PM ON Nov. 29, 2012  (UPDATED AT 11:41 PM ON Nov. 29, 2012)

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As the Bloomington Transit bus rolled down 10th Street, Hudson and Holland Scholars Program instructor and mentor Carl Darnell motioned toward the Arboretum.

“This is where black students sat on the track and shut down Little 500,” he said to riders of the bus, who were both Hudson and Holland demonstrators and students who were simply going to and from campus.

Darnell, who led a demonstration Thursday to make students aware of IU’s racial past and current issues, said there was a time when black students were not allowed to get their hair cut in the Indiana Memorial Union.

“Think about that as we ride around on this bus,” he said.

The Hudson and Holland Commemoration to Resistance event began Thursday morning, when Darnell and guest speakers discussed diversity at IU, including what freshman and Hudson and Holland event planning intern Cierra McNeal called the “4 percent issue.”

During a May 2006 IU Board of Trustees meeting, trustees endorsed a strategy to double enrollment of minority students on campus by the 2013-14 school year.

Currently, underrepresented minority students account for about 4 percent of the students, McNeal said.

At about noon, participants boarded the bus. A group of students with Hudson and Holland rode in silence, in honor of Rosa Park’s resistance of bus segregation in 1955.

Participants wore T-shirts emblazoned with “4% since 1975” as Darnell recounted stories of race issues on campus.

In the late 1960s, Black Market, a Bloomington store that sold black hair care products, black music and African literature, was firebombed by members of the Ku Klux Klan, he said.

The bus approached the Kelley School of Business.

“We’re passing Kelley and SPEA,” Darnell said. “Y’all know there’s only 68 black students? Sixty-eight. Not 68 percent. Sixty-eight black students in Kelley. That’s it. I believe there are 57 Latino students in Kelley. There are thousands of students in Kelley ... Think about that as we ride around.”

At about 12:40 p.m., demonstrators disembarked in front of the Herman B Wells Library and marched down Jordan Avenue toward the Office of Admissions, carrying signs about the “4 percent issue.”

McNeal said it was gratifying to take issues Hudson and Holland scholars frequently discuss and expose others to them.

“Being a student at IU, yes, there are a lot of Asians and Caucasians but I don’t think anybody would ever guess it’s 4 percent,” she said. “I think people were
surprised.”

 

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