Planned by Aivan Traylor, the University of Houston NPHC hosted its third annual celebration of the life and legacy of Sandra Bland. Usually the event is solely a birthday celebration with cake, however, “this year we wanted to make it bigger and better to talk about the social implications, bringing in people who were close to her, such as her line sisters,” said Aivan Traylor, president of the UH NPHC stated.
In hosting the event, the NPHC members hoped to help attendees increase their awareness on the subject of police brutality and social injustice, while discussing how it applies to their everyday lives, something they found especially important during Black History Month.
“We also wanted to get different perspectives to encourage dialogue, while celebrating the life of someone who was harmed by the system. It makes it all the more important that this person is a part of our council. We wanted to show everyone that despite us having different letters, we can come together for the important things, such as this.” Traylor told Watch The Yard in an email.
On the panel, there were three members of the NPHC from UH, all women. Two of the three had experienced a form of police brutality or injustice. One had experienced it right before coming to the event, which made her all the more passionate about speaking at the event.
“We discussed how Sandra is special for many reasons: she is a black, she is a woman, she advocated for black people, she spoke out against police brutality and she called for unity during her life,” Traylor stated.
Two of Sandra Bland’s Sigma Gamma Rho line sisters were in attendance. One of them is a lawyer who is no longer practicing, but she came in to give students the fundamentals on their rights and how to deal with a traffic stop. Many students, including the panelists, expressed that they felt hopeless and that they did not know what they could do to prevent police brutality or advocate for themselves, so she gave hope through experience, facts and the law.
“It is evident that students left feeling better about what they could do to protect themselves,” Traylor said.