RU President calls for students to participate in Sept. 19 Bigger Picture Rally and March

Radford University President Brian Hemphill is asking all RU students to participate in a Sept. 19 march and rally in Radford sponsored by the Black Lives Matter organization.

In a mass email to students, Hemphill asked RU students to “serve as exemplary role models for our campus, our community and our country.”

“To create needed and profound change, I ask that you join me in denouncing racism and reporting discrimination,” Hemphill wrote.

He continued that, “As an African American, I have witnessed racism throughout my life. I was discriminated against during my childhood, teenage years and college experience. … Today, acts of discrimination are still very real for me and so many others.”

Hemphill told students that his personal experience “represents only one of the millions of Americans who have experienced first-hand the injustice and intolerance in our society.”

“As a Radford family, we cannot allow others to define who we are, and what we stand for, and how we respond. As such, I applaud those who have faithfully supported Black Lives Matter in sharing a peaceful and powerful message for change, as well as hope.”

He continued, “As we move forward together in sharing a united message that Black Lives Matter, I am asking members of Highlander Nation to pledge in serving as active and vocal participants by advocating for equality and fairness now and well into the future. I look forward to joining with our passionate students as part of The Bigger Picture March and Rally to be held on the afternoon of September 19, 2020.”

Radford University’s enrollment in 2019 was 9,335 students.

Hemphill’s call for students’ participation in the rally and march comes at a time when the City of Radford has experienced a jump in COVID-19 cases – enough of a jump to be included in a recent New York Times list of the top ten outbreaks in the nation.

As of Monday, Radford reported 669 positive cases of COVID-19 – a large jump since students returned to campus at Radford University. That compares, for instance, to Pulaski County which has 182 cases as of Monday and 1,487 in Montgomery County.

City Council recently set a 50-person limit on gatherings in the city, which it has been enforcing. It was meeting Monday night to consider extending the time period in which the limit on gatherings is to be in place.

Radford University has a 10-person limit on gatherings and has been enforcing its gathering rule by suspending students for violations.

The Patriot reached out to Hemphill Monday afternoon on how the rally and march would co-exist with those gathering limits, however, he had not responded as of Monday evening.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot

Editor’s note: A reader has taken exception with our stating that Black Lives Matter is sponsoring the Sept. 19 march. Our source stated BLM was the sponsor, and we reached out to Dr. Hemphill on the matter. He has not responded to our email. The reader sent us a link to a flyer for the march, which is displayed below. No sponsor of the event is named, however, there are a variety of organizations’ logos at the bottom of the flier.