When the video of an Atlanta police officer lethally shooting Rayshard Brooks hit the internet earlier this summer, Teachers College student Kamille Way (M.A., Design and Development of Digital Games) was deeply shaken. “He was about my age. He could have been my brother,” says Way.

The COVID crisis has limited many from joining marches and protests, Way says, but there is a universal need to give voice to the grief, pain and outrage prompted by the seemingly unrelenting images of police violence against unarmed Black Americans.

“I can’t be on the frontlines,” says Way, citing COVID-19 concerns, “But I wanted to organize something to allow people to be able to share their feelings. Art gives all of us, regardless of our race, nationality or ethnicity, etc., the opportunity to express ourselves in a safe space.”

The vision articulated by Way, an artist who has turned to her own work for relief, prompted the Teachers College Student Senate’s recent Black Lives Matter Digital Art Display, a virtual art showcase of more than 30 pieces by poets, painters, musicians, digital filmmakers and others from the TC community that “center on the Black Lives Matter social justice movement and racial injustices” experienced by Black communities at large.

A continuation of other College conversations about systemic racism, the dynamic art exhibit included poetry (both spoken-word and written), original art, musical performances and more from members of the TC community, with work exploring the Black LIves Matter protests themselves, America’s legacy of slavery and racial injustice, the collective impact of race-based trauma, the meaning of solidarity and more. Photos of the recent protests were interspersed throughout the exhibit, a gripping reminder of the real-world conditions that spurred this virtual experience.

“A lot of people were just really grateful that we put it together. We kept hearing, ‘This was empowering, this is what I needed,’” remarked Shavonna Hinton (M.A., Education Policy), one of the event’s organizers. “It's important to have community during these times. There are so many competing stressors, and it was encouraging to see so many people from the TC community come together.”