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'I'm Staying Here & Fighting For Change': Racist Note Leads To 1,000-Strong Sit-In At University Of St. Thomas

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Students at St. Paul's University of St. Thomas are calling for change after a student woke up to racist message written on his dorm room door.

A crowd of more than 1,000 students, teachers and staff members gathered Thursday afternoon at Anderson Student Center for a sit-in to support freshman Kevyn Perkins, the recipient of the racist message.

Several students of color spoke to a crowd dressed in white, a symbol of the mostly white student population.

Perkins told WCCO-TV the message made him both angry and sad.

University Of St. Thomas Sit-In After Racist Note
(credit: CBS)

"I'm unfazed, I'm strong, I'm hanging in there and I'm speaking up and standing up for myself," Perkins said.

And many stood beside him, including St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.

"This whole community is around you and it's not just St. Thomas. It's an important moment for our city," Carter said.

It is also a crucial moment for St. Thomas school.

"I'm in solidarity, I'm here," said Dr. Julie Sullivan, University of St. Thomas. "I am happy the sit-in is happening today and I wanted to be here. It needs to happen."

Kevyn Perkins
Kevyn Perkins (credit: CBS)

The top administrator spent the lunch hour on the ground.

"This has to be a moment that's a turning point. This has to be a moment that we recommit ourselves as a community but step up our efforts, step up our actions to send the strongest message we can that acts of hate, acts of racism, acts of bigotry will not be tolerated on this campus," Sullivan said.

It is a campus community that Perkins says he will stand by.

"I've decided that I'm staying here and fighting for change," Perkins said.

The university emailed students a plan to combat racism on campus. They say they will have anti-bias training, trauma counseling and they will cancel classes next Wednesday for a campus-wide meeting to discuss race relations.

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