Several students and faculty members gathered at the Morehouse College Literary Salon held at the Leadership Center. The featured book was Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazers & Torchbearers, hosted by Morehouse College’s Office of Housing and Residential Life and Jack and Jill of America Inc. Atlanta chapter, with author Dr. Vicki L. Crawford leading the dialogue.
The discussion progressed from the Civil Rights Movement to today’s social movement for equality and justice. True to the topic that is flooding the day’s news landscape, students at the symposium all agreed that the current approach to the Trayvon Martin tragedy that protesters has adopted will not change an “inherently flawed system.” They each offer their perspective on the strategy that will hopefully lead to a solution. –yvette caslin
Na’il Salahu-Din: “Racism today is much more institutionalized on a level that isn’t always obvious to people who aren’t conscious. Knowledge and education are important to be conscious and so you can have the [erudite] eyes to see inequalities happening. Inequalities and injustices happen on a day-to-day, because racism is so institutionalized, people don’t see it.”
“The older generation shouldn’t belittle the struggles of the younger generation. We experience racism today and it may not be in our face or on the same level as it was in the past.”
Michael A. Cox: “I get frustrated with my student peers who aren’t connected to the Black Caucus or those who don’t know their representatives. … The dynamics have changed over time from the Civil Rights Movement to today. You have to add some layers to it so it will work. There has to be a mobilization of intellectuals, people who are going to advance the issue. It has to happen across generations and be multifaceted in the approach, as we move forward in the 21st century.
Matthew Wells: “We just [witnessed] Occupy Washington, Oakland and Atlanta. We saw how all of those people rallied nothing has really changed. I feel there needs to be a better [plan] to find a solution.”
Kareem Heshmat: “I feel that the movement has stagnated to BET and we are [too focused] on being a leader or a revolutionary. There’s a lack of unity in every culture. In the Arab Spring, one man will die and millions will show up. They didn’t need all of these [social] networks. America is the only place where we are so fractured in our interests that we won’t even go to someone’s funeral. We look at our brother and if he doesn’t have [material things], he’s nothing to me; he’s not going anywhere. This lack of companionship has us in this rut.”
Avery Juboris Sellers: “I think there will be some type of movement, revolt. But, it may be over the wrong issue … it’s unfocused and has become a race issue when that’s really not the case. The facts remain that Trayvon was a young man that was black, wore a hoodie and was racially profiled. The biggest issue is that the lead investigator wanted to bring charges up and the district attorney’s office told him no. How did they feel it was their place when the judicial system is set up for guilt or innocence to be determined by a jury of our peers? That’s the issue that everyone is missing. All we’re doing now is increasing the profits for the makers of Skittles and hoodies. It needs to move from being an African American movement to an American movement.”
Isaiah Green: “I find that today we can be extremely reactive as opposed to proactive. I have attended the rally for Trayvon Martin [and] the rally for the young man [Brandon White] who was beaten up for being gay. Why aren’t we as a whole looking at these systems and the existing legislations [and] trying to change them so when these issues arise, there is already something in place so justice can be served, timely?”
DeMarcus Crews: “I feel that the movement is planted in the right ground but misguided. Some people are ignorant to the racism that exists in our present-day society and have been raised as if everything is perfect. I feel that people are out making noise because they don’t know what to do.”