Kiera Perryman took part in last summer’s Black Lives Matter racial justice protests in Boston, walking the nearly four miles from the Nubian Square commercial district near Northeastern to City Hall. It was her first time seeing people gathered together since the pandemic lockdowns started earlier in the year. The solidarity of seeing a mix of races coalescing around a movement left a mark on Perryman that day. “It was very grounding and powerful,” she recalls.
People coming together toward a shared vision was what propelled her two years earlier to join the Northeastern chapter of Sisters in Solidarity (SIS), an affinity group for Black women and part of the larger Black Voices Matter campaign. Perryman is one of about seven members in SIS, and she says it’s meaningful to be with like-minded others.
“It’s nice to have that place to be together on campus,” she says. The John D. O’Bryant African American Institute in West Village is another place where Perryman feels free to be herself. The bracelet on her left wrist with “Faith” written on it was a gift from a friend at the institute and was bought from a Black-owned vendor.
Meeting with other Black women and sharing joys, pains, and concerns triggers a sense of belonging, which became even more important after the global pandemic put a sudden end to everything, Perryman says. “You’re getting that feeling of solidarity,” she explains.
But that connected feeling is often missing in certain circles, including the legal profession, where Black women are rare, says Hilary Robinson, associate professor of law and sociology. She pointed to Rachael Rollins, the Northeastern law school graduate now serving as a district attorney in Massachusetts, as an example of a leader who inspires others.