Black Lives Matter of Columbus returns

Anthony Hayden

A chapter of Black Lives Matter of Columbus has returned after the local group disbanded in December 2018.

Chapter leaders at that time said they struggled to make time for the group’s efforts while working and raising families. That happened a few months after Columbus native Brittany King, who founded and led the chapter in July 2016, left Columbus to study at New York University.

Columbus native Anthony Hayden, 31, a 2008 Columbus East High School graduate, has launched the reincarnation in part to promote racial equality, push against what he termed “systemic oppression” and to advance “peaceful and civil conversation about race” and related matters, as he put it.

“We’re not saying that white people are bad,” Hayden said. “We’re saying that the (societal) system is bad.”

The group’s first virtual meeting, via Zoom, was scheduled for Tuesday night. Organization of new leadership still is unfolding. And the group’s public presence for now is the Facebook page for New Blacklivesmatter of Columbus.

But Hayden, who initially was a board member of the previous chapter that attracted mostly people to its meetings and events, has stressed that all people, including those with differing views, are welcome to its gatherings and functions as long as they show respect for others. In fact, Hayden stressed that Black Lives Matter stands against violence in all forms, including at some protests that have resulted in vandalism, looting, burning of buildings, injuries and deaths.

“There’s no place (for that) in civil society,” he said. “(Use) words, not fists.”

He was moved to action about the chapter’s revival for a simple reason.

“Currently, with what’s going on, I felt like things have gotten worse (racially),” he said. “And I felt like we needed another voice to take on the fight.”

He emphasized that the group’s name reflects that black lives matter as much as anyone else’s — but not more than anyone’s else’s. The previous group stressed that meaning at nearly every gathering it organized.

Hayden recently met separately with Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop and Columbus Police Department Chief Michael Richardson. He said he wants the chapter to work closely with the Columbus/Bartholomew County Area NAACP Branch and the local African American Pastors Alliance, among other groups to further race relations and equality via diplomatic means.

He said he rejects national, ultra-conservative media descriptions of Black Lives Matter as a Marxist organization, or one tied to socialism. But he added that he’s more than willing to talk to people such such misunderstandings.

“I want people to be able to disagree,” he said. “Change happens only when you can talk with people who disagree.”

He agreed that most of the support for the previous Black Lives Matter of Columbus chapter came from white residents, especially since census estimates indicate that 2.3 percent of Bartholomew County residents are Black.

“If you truly believe that all lives matter, then you believe that black lives matter,” he said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”About the chapter” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: The relaunch of the chapter of Black Lives Matter of Columbus.

Why: In part to promote racial equality, push against what President Anthony Hayden termed "systemic oppression" and to advance "peaceful and civil conversation about race" and related matters.

Information: Facebook page for New Blacklivesmatter of Columbus.