Ames Public Library hosts Black Lives Matter exhibition


Gillian Holte/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State students in AESHM 499 presented their exhibition, Black Lives Matter: Fashion, Liberation, and the Fight for Freedom, at the Ames Public Library on Dec. 4. The students presented their researched conducted throughout the semester. The exhibition will be on display until Dec. 11.

Mike Brown

The Ames Public Library is giving Ames residents and Iowa State students a place to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The exhibit, titled “Black Lives Matter: Fashion, Liberation and the Fight for Freedom,” will be on display in the library until Dec. 12 and is free to view.

Each section of the exhibit is based on a study done by one of five students working with their faculty adviser, Kelly Reddy-Best. Each study talks about a different aspect of Black Lives Matter.

A reception was hosted Tuesday followed by presentations from each of the students on their research topics.

One of the first posters presented in the exhibit showed a list of unarmed black people killed by police from 2012 to now. Those who were under the age of 25 had their names bolded.

Attendees were provided a brief history of Black Lives Matter, its origins and its ideology in a presentation from Daryle Sivels, senior in event management. In his presentation, Sivels showed the first ever post to use “#blacklivesmatter” in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin, as well as other early events which furthered the growth of the organization.

Crystal Davenport, sophomore in apparel, merchandising and design, spoke about her study in which she interviewed black women who wear their natural hair. She said her participants reported feelings of self-love and acceptance when wearing their natural hair, as well as resistance to societal pressures to straighten or use other harmful products in their hair.

Ames resident Nikkia Koelling said she most related to the discussion of black women wearing their natural hair as she has chosen to since 2013.

“I don’t feel like I need to straighten my hair or tie it back,” Koelling said. “I know what it does, it makes me seem less approachable, and I try to wear it big and approach people and challenge the stereotype, redefine it.”

Brandon Spencer, a sophomore in apparel, merchandising and design, reported on his study in which he analyzed different cases where black men who were killed by police as well as the role the media played in reporting on these killings.

Spencer focused on three different cases, each with a different age range from child, to a teenager, to an adult, and said in all three cases these men were assumed to be immediately dangerous and threatening, but were not. Spencer said these instances reflect society’s perception of black men as a whole.

“I am both black and male, yet being so should not make me a threat,” Spencer said. “I am not a threat.”

Celebrities and their activism and showing of support to the black community and Black Lives Matter was also discussed. Dyese Matthews, a graduate student in apparel, events and hospitality management, focused on three different ways prominent individuals in the black community carry out their activism: clothing, historical references and body positioning.

Matthews used examples including Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of police brutality, LeBron James wearing a shirt which read “I can’t breathe” in reference to the strangling of Eric Garner by a police officer in New York City and Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance in which she made references to Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party, among others.

Monetary aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement were studied by Katrine Cadman, junior in apparel, merchandising and design. Cadman said she analyzed different listings on websites such as Amazon and Etsy to find out who manufactured and sold different Black Lives Matter apparel. Cadman encouraged attendees to do research on where they purchase their merchandise from and to support companies who will donate proceeds from their apparel to charitable causes.

Tre Moore, an Iowa State alumnus who graduated with a degree in journalism in fall 2018, said he most admired the leadership shown by all the presenters, even outside of their research for their presentations. Moore referenced Spencer and Davenport’s leadership positions within Sir Magazine.

“Students of color have to balance a lot, on top of still fighting and still wanting to do the work that it takes to have this information out there,” Moore said.