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Ferguson Shooting Town Hall Credit: Yolanda Chen , Yolanda Chen

Black student leaders from all eight Ivy League universities are uniting to fight racial inequality across the East Coast.

The students announced on Monday the formation of the Black Ivy Coalition — the first partnership of its kind which will focus on long-term advocacy work — in a statement acknowledging the importance of college activism in promoting civil rights today.

“It is our mission to compel our society to revalue Black lives and end the violation of human and civil rights of Black people. We aim to correct the misconception that the Civil Rights movement is over and the United States exists in a paradigm of post-racism — that the slew of recent deaths is nothing more than a series of isolated incidents,” reads the statement released by the group.

The coalition grew out of conversations between students after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Brown’s shooting highlighted the racial tensions between the black community and law enforcement, but also served as a call to action for many student activists.

Shortly after the shooting, many students across the country became involved in local protests. It was around this time that student leaders from Penn started talking informally online with other students at Yale and Columbia universities, said College senior and UMOJA co-chair Denzel Cummings.

“It was us having conversations like ‘what are you doing on your campus’ and then it evolved into a conversation of ‘what we can do together’ and then it evolved into what we have now, ... a physical tangible thing,” Cummings said.

The new coalition has two representatives from each school in the Ivy League for a total number of 16 students on its board. The group will also have a general body made up of students from across the eight universities. While the Black Ivy Coalition has not yet created an official agenda, its work will be focused on political advocacy.

Cummings said the group also plans to open membership to students at other universities once the group gets underway.

This recent effort is just one part of the community’s response to Ferguson. Students at Penn started their recent efforts by holding a Town Hall event where they put out a call for ideas on what actions to take. Since that event, the community has also increased internal communications through initiatives like Black@Penn, which connects black undergraduate and graduate students.

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