African-American students began singing the lyrics to “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” as their way to object to what was being said by white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes — the speaker they came to protest.

The song has been considered as the “Black National Anthem,” adopted by the NAACP in 1919.

Other students continued heckling as Fuentes stood on a half wall in front of the Hub near Central Campus Wednesday night, addressing the crowd that amassed around him.

nicholas12.jpg

Attendees of Nicholas Fuentes’s speech ask questions and debate during a Q&A portion at the Free Speech Zone at Iowa State University on Wednesday, March 6.

Fuentes had planned his first college speech to be on immigration, with the message having been originally intended for college Republicans.

“Hey, chill out, your racism is showing!” a student yelled as Fuentes spoke.

“Hey hey, ho ho, the white supremacist has got to go!” another group of students yelled in unison toward the back of the crowd.

An hour before 100 students gathered outside in the brisk cold near the "free speech zone," about 50 students gathered in Carver Hall Room 205 ready to encounter Fuentes — the original meeting location.

Ariana Voorhis, senior in industrial technology and Iowa State NAACP chapter president, said she was informed through a phone call about the counter protest to Fuentes only minutes before the original start time.

“I don’t think [Fuentes] should be here,” Voorhis said. “I don’t know what he is here to preach about, or what was happening but [someone said] we’re here and we are protesting him in this room.”

As NAACP chapter president, Voorhis said she believed it was important to be in attendance to support the black community.

“I feel like they are begging for an answer and I feel like [Fuentes and his supporters] are looking for us to do something,” Voorhis said. “For us to come together and do something would ultimately impact their voice and what they’re doing.”

Ashton Ayers, junior in political science and political director for College Democrats, said he immediately started reaching out to different organizations after reading about Fuentes’ visit to campus in the Daily article published early Wednesday morning.

Looking around at the different organizations present in the room in Carver, Ayers was amazed.

“This was organized on phenomenally short notice and shows the strong view of Iowa State,” Ayers said. “It shows we don’t tolerate racism, bigotry and hatred against minorities.”

Jonathan Hall, sophomore in civil engineering and the National Panhellenic liaison for the Black Student Alliance, said there was representation from the NAACP, BSA and NPHC to protest.

Hall said a flyer for the protest was given out around noon on Wednesday and members decided to rally.

“My initial reaction was ‘first of all, who is he?'” Hall said. 

Hall said as he read more into Fuentes’ ideologies, he realized he did not support the messaging from Fuentes.

“In NPHC, we work hard to ensure our community we serve, whether it is black or brown or any other kind of marginalized community, are seen as equals in everyone’s eyes," he said.

As people filled the room, many grew antsy waiting for Fuentes’ arrival.

Alexis Holmes, BSA member, said it was important to have some type of dialogue as those in attendance waited for Fuentes’ arrival.

She and College Republican member Anthony Labruna attempted to start a dialogue for about 10 minutes, before Labruna announced the location of Fuentes on campus — East Hall Room 211.

nicholas14.jpg

Alexis Holmes, a Black Student Alliance member, and Anthony Labruna, a member of College Republicans, moderate conversation at Carver 205 Wednesday, March 6. Attendees expected to hear Nicholas Fuentes talk about his views however he never showed. LaBruna addressed the public to tell them of Fuentes’ new location for his speech: East Hall.

After an almost hour wait in Carver, student rushed across campus to encounter Fuentes in person.

Before long, Fuentes was moved out of the building by ISU police because he did not have a proper reservation for the room.

Throughout his speech, Fuentes referred to African Americans as "blacks," which Holmes said reflected strong levels of ignorance.

Preston Burris, senior in communication studies, called Fuentes’ language racist.

“In truth when I heard that, I thought people were trying to find a way to be offended,” said Daniel Eisenstein, freshman in pre-business. “I felt like [Fuentes] was trying to coax a reaction so they could criticize him and then he could be like ‘well what about Black Lives Matter?”

In uproar, students of color shouted, correcting Fuentes’ language.

Holmes said Fuentes’ sarcastic response to the black students demands was a slap-in-the-face to most African American students.

“Why did you say it like that?” an African-American student yelled at Fuentes.

Standing within the growing crowd, Daniel Kriva, freshman in civil engineering and self-proclaimed vice president for the unrecognized Turning Point USA at Iowa State chapter, believed the protesters in attendance just gave Fuentes a platform.

“If all the protesters were in an agreement to not show up, there would only be supporters of this,” Kriva said. “If one reporter took a picture of that and spread it, it would make him not look like a good speaker and it would eventually make his views die out.”

Kriva said that while he did believe Fuentes may have had a bad speech to deliver, he still had a right to speak on it on campus grounds.

Eisenstein said he decided to attend after he was invited by his friends in College Republicans and does not associate with the organization.

Eisenstein said the only reason people knew about Fuentes coming to campus was through the Daily’s article about him coming.

“I wanted to see if [protestors] will let them talk,” Eisenstein said. “Ultimately, they did.”

Burris said Fuentes should not have been able to speak on campus.

However, Eisenstein disagreed with Burris.

“I don’t agree with what he says but I will fight to the death for his right to say what he wants to say,” Eisenstein said.

 
 

(3) comments

Steve Gregg

First, I find the irony amusing that silly liberals consider calling blacks black to be racist while at the same time supporting Black Lives Matter. Are the blacks who named themselves Black Lives Matter racist for calling themselves black? Take all the time you need to answer that question, lefty loonies.

I’m not sure which side fielded the biggest idiots. Was it the white nationalist? Or was it the mass of protestors who had no idea who the speaker was or what he was preaching but shouted him down to stop it, whatever it was. Which side was the biggest pack of haters and losers? Flip a coin, if you can’t decide.

I would recommend that normal, moral people join neither side. You don’t want to be supporting a nation based on race nor do you want to join a movement that fiercely opposes free speech. Both sides oppose American democracy and deserve your contempt.

Daniel Eisenstein

Allow me to add a little context to where I was quoted. I explained that I believe Mr. Fuentes clearly intended to used some abrasive terminology in hopes of baiting the crowd. For an example, at one point, some individuals asked him to not refer to them as "blacks." I do clearly remember his response, "Aren't you Black Lives Matter?"

While the term "black" (in reference to race) isn't as explicitly offensive as some other terminology, I think most people agree that it can be quite disrespectful. For that reason, myself and my friends easily refrain from using it.

From what I observed, Mr. Fuentes' use of that term was intended to coax a reaction from the crowd, only to backfire when he responded. I couldn't help but wince when that played out.

In the end, I do believe allowing him to speak was a necessary evil. Of course, freedom of speech is still a two-way street. I found it heartwarming that even my friends who identify with College Republicans found his speech full of spurious correlations, inflammatory, and cringe-worthy.

Ricky Martien

The only people who think the word "black" is offensive and was used as a way to "coax a reaction" are people who live on college campuses and don't understand that only they have that opinion. Nick referred to them as black because that is what they have been referred to as for God knows how long, without any issue. The BLM point was actually valid, if its an offensive term then why is it used to name entire movements? Calling it an attempt to get a reaction is just an excuse to not have to address your own inconsistency. I highly doubt anybody would try to provoke a crowd of leftist college protesters, who have a reputation for being violent when confronted with opposing opinions. . I don't think you understand just how bad the counter protesters looked to the rest of the world, just find any video of the event and the comments are filled with ridicule over how viciously unintelligent their attempts to engage Nick were. I think it's pretty clear that, not only did you not sway anybody to your side, you probably ended up swaying a few people against you. The fact that you don't see how badly you embarrassed yourself is pretty cringe-worthy in itself.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.