ALLENDALE, Mich. — Newly released footage an officer shooting and killing a man in Charlotte will be the subject of conversation on Grand Valley State University's campus on Monday when 16 students get an up close look at race-relations in a new class called 'Black Lives Matter'.
The class is just two weeks into the one credit course and does not have a set syllabus; it's constantly changing. The course isn't connected to the Black Lives Matter organization, but discusses the history leading up to the group's creation.
The Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum in the United States since its creation in 2012 following the shooting death of black teenager, Trayvon Martin. Since then the group has established itself across the country.
"While we're having these conversations about what's going on today I try to link them to things that happened in the 1960's and the 1860's," said professor Louis Moore. "We discuss why is this still happening and what do you want to happen after this? I took on this role to learn more about the information, but also to help the students understand this."
Moore stepped into the role as the course professor. The class currently has 16 students from different races and walks of life. The students will work in groups and have open conversations with grading dependent on class participation and a group project.
"These students are young, in their 20's, they're energetic," Moore said. "Part of that then is to get them to talk about what democracy is and we always talk about this idea and that's part of what Black Lives Matter is is if we're not free, if black people aren't free, if LGBT people aren't free, then America isn't free."
Similar courses are offered at other universities, but it's being treated as a "pop up class" at Grand Valley State University focusing on current events. This year's class happens to be Black Lives Matter.
"It's been awesome in the sense that we get to discuss the history and get the opportunity to discuss the movement," Moore said. "But it's been sad over the last week with three police murders, so our class has really been filled with dealing with why those happened, what's going to happen after that for the future."
While Moore hopes the class continues, he says it's a catch-22 because if the course is still available it's still an issue that needs to be addressed.
"We have to ask ourselves why are we still discussing this issue?" Moore said.
The class meets twice a week on Monday and Friday and concludes in three weeks. It's undecided whether the course will be offered again next year or treated as a longer 15 week class.