Black Lives Matter

Courtesy Kyra Gines

George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police led people all over the world, including here in Central Pennsylvania, to take to the streets in protest. Kyra Gines, a Penn State sophomore, joined a diverse group of high school students to organize a 12-hour protest in downtown State College. Kyra’s activism began at State College Area High School, spurred by the 2016 election. She participated in protests around issues including gun control and led the school’s Diversity and Activism Club.

The BlackAtPennState logo.


Since June 27, an Instagram account called “BlackAtPennState” has shared anonymous stories of racism from Black Penn State students, graduates and staff. WPSU intern Andrew Destin talked with the Instagram account creator, a Black student at Penn State who has chosen to keep his identity confidential out of concern for his safety.  


Shelby Lincoln
Shelby Lincoln

During this summer of pandemic and protest, the WPSU news team is working with a small class of students from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State. Students in the class are talking with people in our listening area about issues important to them ahead of the upcoming presidential election through phone and Zoom interviews. And they’ve taken some time to write personal essays about how the pandemic has affected them personally. Here’s one of those audio diaries from Penn State rising senior, Shelby Lincoln. 

This interview originally aired Dec. 6, 2019. 

Veteran law enforcement officers Damon K. Jones and Cariol Horne are speaking out against police brutality and calling for reform.

They talked with WPSU about the challenges they have faced as minorities in the police force, their thoughts about the Black Lives Matter movement and why change is necessary.


Participants in "Justice for Black Lives" march Sunday, June 7, 2020, in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

When Penn State announced the phased return of athletes, the university said students are required to practice safety measures, including wearing face masks in public, observing social distancing and avoiding large groups.


Penn State began bringing athletes back to campus Monday, starting with 75 football players. Some players were among the participants in a “Justice for Black Lives” rally held Sunday in State College.


More than a thousand people participated in a protest in downtown State College Sunday night as protests against racism and for police reform continued nationwide over the weekend.
Min Xian / WPSU

More than a thousand people participated in a protest in downtown State College Sunday night as protests against racism and for police reform continued nationwide over the weekend. Sunday’s protest, the second in two weeks, put its focus on local reform.

Protesters chanted “No justice, no peace!” and “Black Lives Matter!” as they gathered at the Allen Street Gate and marched through Penn State’s University Park campus and downtown. The crowd held a sit-in on Atherton Street briefly before ending the march in front of the borough municipal building. 

Event organizer Susan Prill holds a sign to Arts Fest patrons saying "#EndWhiteSilence."
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

At Penn State’s Allen Street gates, about a dozen demonstrators held signs directed to the crowds taking in Arts Fest events. The signs had phrases like “White Silence = Violence” and “Black lives matter to me.”

Susan Prill organized the event. She and all the other demonstrators were white. She said, We’re not here to disrupt, we’re just here to get some more eyes on the message and try to get white people to continue the conversation.”

Ronald Sullivan addresses the class as Professor Paul Taylor looks on.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Eight months ago in Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown. Since then, the nation has been rocked by protests and debate. In response, the African American Studies department at Penn State University Park is offering a class to help students analyze what happened in Ferguson.

Protestors at the Allen Street Gates in State College, Pa.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

On a chilly Saturday afternoon in State College, among busy downtown traffic, Salvation Army bell-ringers and even a wedding photo shoot, a group of about twenty people solemnly stood at the gates of Allen Street.  

The group gathered for a protest in the wake of Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s deaths. This was the latest of several rallies in State College, some in support of law enforcement but most, like Saturday’s, to protest police brutality and institutionalized racism.