Editor's note: A previous version of this article included the wrong day for the event "Speak your peace" and a misquote. The article has been corrected. The Daily regrets this error.
Taking it to the streets, the Ames Black Lives Matter movement marched around campus, onto Lincoln Way up to the front lawn of Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen’s home on Thursday evening.
About a hundred people met in front of the steps of Carrie Chapman Catt Hall with the demand to change its name. Catt was honored by Iowa State in her work for women's suffrage and a founder of the League of Women Voters.
She had also made the statement that “white supremacy will be strengthened, not weakened, by women’s suffrage.”
“March for Justice,” was organized by the Ames Black Lives Matter movement. Ahmed Ismail, a senior in industrial engineering, was one of the leaders and organizers of the march. Ismail is originally from Sudan, moving to the United States when he was 8 years old for “the chance of a better life.”
“My mom was an engineer, my dad was an engineer and we went from being engineers to my mom became a daycare assistant [and] my dad became a security guard — they sacrificed a career in engineering just to come here,” Ismail said. “We literally thought we were coming to the land of the free. [...] One in every three Black men in America is likely to see jail time in their life. My family and I did not know that when we came here, we came here just for the chance at a better life.”
“Take it to the streets, fuck the police, no justice, no peace,” and “Black Lives Matter,” were chanted as the group marched down Morrill Road to where it intersects with Lincoln Way, creating a box and blocking traffic. The group continued to chant “Black Lives Matter,” “Say his name,” "Say her name” and “Without that badge, you a bitch and a half.”
Some of the leaders spoke to the crowd as others handed out water and snacks.
The group marched to the intersection of Welch Avenue and Chamberlain Street and formed a circle as they continued their chants.
At the intersection, the Ames Black Lives Matter movement listed their demands:
Change the name of Catt Hall
Diversity in the curriculum
Abolish the police
After, they marched to Wintersteen’s driveway, chanting “Rename Catt Hall.”
Julian Neely, an Iowa State alumnus and the former president of Student Government during the 2018 to 2019 school year, spoke at the event.
“When we say ‘somebody has been racist to us,’ when we say ‘we have been discriminated against,' when we say that ‘we have experienced someone throwing bigotry at us,’ do not invalidate our story, do not invalidate our story,” Neely said. “So listen to us when we say these [events] have happened to us on our campus. Listen to us when this has happened in our community. We aren’t lying, why the fuck would we lie?”
The lights in Wintersteen’s home were off as the leaders of the group were informed that Wintersteen had left.
“Publicly come out here and say you will change Catt Hall,” Neely said to Wintersteen’s home. “Otherwise we going to be here night and night, we going to be over and over — you’re going to continuously hear these voices. And I don’t want to hear ‘oh this is the first time I’ve heard about Catt Hall' because that’s a bullshit-ass lie. I know you’ve been here — you worked your way up throughout Iowa State. You were the dean before, you was a professor before that — so I know you’ve heard about Catt Hall and how racist she is, so you need to change her name. Change Catt Hall.”
The leaders of the event invited the Black protesters to speak on their experiences and the messages they wanted to send.
“I came here today because two weeks ago I found out my great uncle was lynched,” said Kaleb Stevens, who attended the event. “My uncle is in prison right now, he’s got about 23 years in Fort Dodge left, he just got a raise, he now makes 63 cents an hour, he works 50 hours a week — tell me how that works out? I don’t get it, I don’t get it. They’re out making the masks, some of the masks we’re wearing — I don’t get it. I got a lot to say about it so we’re going to continue this conversation here in Ames, we’re not going to let our people in Des Moines lead it all by themselves.”
Around 9:30 p.m., the group made its way back to Catt Hall, shared their final statements and additional events, then dispersed. Some of the protesters offered rides home to others as they walked peacefully to their cars.
Protests and events will continue throughout the weekend. “Speak your peace,” an event for the Black community to speak, be heard and celebrate their life in the face of oppression, will take place 6 p.m. Saturday at Moore Memorial Park. The event will continue rain or shine.
There will also be a statewide call to action to restore the voting rights for convicted felons that will take place 7 p.m. Monday and local chapters of Black Lives Matter will announce the location.