She died in police custody. The same road where she was arrested is now named after her.

Sandra Bland wanted to change history; here's one way to be sure her death was not in vain.

On July 10, 2015, Sandra Bland was pulled over on University Boulevard in Prairie View, Texas, for failing to use her blinker while changing lanes.

She had no way of knowing that moments later, a police officer would threaten to Taser her then forcefully arrest her in an encounter later determined to be excessive and unnecessary.

She had no way of knowing that her death in police custody would spark protests across America, led by activists calling for Americans to “Say her name!"


Protesters rally Aug. 9, 2015, in Union Square, New York. Photo via Kena Betancur/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Now, Bland's name and the legacy she left behind is memorialized on the road that leads to her alma mater.

It's the same road where she was arrested months before, a road now named Sandra Bland Parkway.

The efforts to commemorate Sandra's life and legacy were actualized Aug. 26, 2015, when demonstrators joined the Prairie View City Council, Bland's mother, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to request the change.

Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, told the council, "I want her name to always be spoken because she's still speaking, so I just ask that you all do us right today."

"I want her name to always be spoken because she's still speaking."

After the city council voted to rename the street Sandra Bland Parkway, the city hall erupted into a bittersweet celebration.

This measure to commemorate Bland doesn't just demonstrate the power of a united community coming together to preserve one woman's legacy. It will also serve as a reminder for police to treat residents with respect and dignity, Prairie View graduate Michael Moore told Houston Public Media.

“When police officers stop any of our students at Prairie View, they'll always be able to write that name, Sandra Bland, just to remind them, their consciousness, that, 'Hey, I can't treat this person bad,' or do any unlawful things to the students," Moore said.

Before her death, Bland was a Black Lives Matter activist who imagined a world without police violence and brutality.

Bland attended Prairie View A&M University, a historically black university and had returned for a job at the school when she was pulled over in July.

In one of the #SandySpeaks videos that she posted to Facebook, she told viewers, “I'm here to change history."

And change history, she did. Sandra Bland's call for change will continue to echo in Prairie View and across the country, reminding us all of the pressing need to create a more racially just America.

More

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wikipedia

Women in country music are fighting to be heard. Literally. A study found that between 2000 and 2018, the amount of country songs on the radio by women had fallen by 66%. In 2018, just 11.3% of country songs on the radio were by women. The statistics don't exist in a vacuum. There are misogynistic attitudes behind them. Anyone remember the time radio consultant Keith Hill compared country radio stations to a salad, saying male artists are the lettuce and women are "the tomatoes of our salad"...? Air play of female country artists fell from 19% of songs on the radio to 10.4% of songs on the radio in the three years after he said that.

Not everyone thinks that women are tomatoes. This year's CMA Awards celebrated women, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles saw the opportunity to bring awareness to this issue and "inspire conversation about country music's need to play more women artists on radio and play listings," as Nettles put it on her Instagram. She did it in a uniquely feminine way – by making a fashion statement that also made a statement-statement.

Keep Reading Show less
popular