The banners that changed Beloit

A new photo gallery in the Powerhouse chronicles the story of the Black Lives Matter banners on the Kang and Keefer pedestrian bridge during the summer of 2020.

A new gallery wall in the Powerhouse displays the story of summer 2020 and the two banners that changed Beloit.

Following the murders of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and countless other Black men and women, Beloit College organized a rally with the City of Beloit in July 2020 and placed two large Black Lives Matter banners on the Kang and Keefer pedestrian bridge, which spans U.S. Highway 51.

Soon after, the banners were subject to attempted thefts, and in October, the City of Beloit rescinded its permission to display the banners, citing a new legal opinion.

Over the next month, members of Beloit College’s administration, the city manager, city council, and attorneys for both discussed different ordinances and possible changes with the intent to allow the banners to return. To fill the void, Beloit College students placed their own colorful handmade signs, spelling the letters “BLM” on both sides of the bridge.

“For me, this is a representation of what we’re all about,” said Dean of Students Cecil Youngblood during the presentation of the five-photograph gallery wall. Faculty-staff college group Black Lives Matter Beloit and Director of Recreation and Activity Dawn Redd were instrumental in conceptualizing the gallery wall.

The wall features photos from every significant turning point during that summer: the original Black Lives Matter banners on the bridge, the student-made signs, and the Black Lives Matter banner hanging along the west exterior wall of the Sports Center.

The wall also includes a narrative of the summer’s events. Above the wall is a quote from How to Be An Antiracist author Ibram X Kendi “To be anti racist is to challenge the racist policies that plague racialized ethnic groups across the world. To be anti racist is to view inequities between all racialized groups as a problem of policy.”

President Scott Bierman called the unveiling “a great day for Beloit,” and said the wall represents the goals of Beloit’s effort to become an anti-racist institution.

In November, the city of Beloit passed a new sign ordinance, which allowed the banners to be placed back on the bridge.

May 06, 2021

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