COLUMBIA, S.C. — What if President Trump was set to make a grand speech to black students, but no one was allowed to come?
That was the question raised by several protestors who walked the streets of Columbia, S.C., on Friday afternoon, as they geared up to push back against Trump’s speech at historically black Benedict College. Several usual suspects were part of the anti-Trump line up: staffers from rival Democratic campaigns, angered residents and volunteers passing out impeachment merchandise (an impeachment shirt was on sale for $15).
Yet one anticipated group was noticeably missing: Benedict College students.
Benedict alumni Shawn Torres told Yahoo News that current students were instructed to “remain in place or leave campus” during Trump’s speech, essentially sequestering themselves in dormitories.
“A lot of them are opposed to this but have been silenced,” said Torres, who added that only a handful of students from the college were invited, and the rest of the attendees were recruited from non-black colleges around the state.
The resulting scene outside the speech, which included an eclectic mix of student protesters, Tom Steyer volunteers, and some Trump supporters, highlighted, if nothing else, the challenge Trump faces in winning substantial support among black voters.
Benedict’s students, though under restrictions during the speech, found creative workarounds. Some stuck their heads out of their dorm room windows and played hip-hop music in what appeared to be an act of unity with the protestors gathered outside of campus gates. Even such a small showing of support gave new life to the hundred or so anti-Trump protestors, most of whom were bused in by entrepreneur and presidential candidate Tom Steyer, according to the volunteers.
“Free the guys! Free the girls!” chanted the protestors outside the dormitory windows. “They definitely got a voice too,” said 40-year-old Jermaine Evans, an African-American Steyer volunteer.
The Steyer supporters, mostly black volunteers from South Carolina, weren’t able