Students told to take the baton of justice

Students told to take the baton of justice
December 05
00:00 2014
(pictured above:  English Professor Will Boone speaks with Professors Dawn Tafari (left) and Denise Nation at his sides.)

“Is this what we died for? Is this what I got punched in the gut for? … We suffered and it looks like its all been flushed away.”

Joann Davis,74, said those words Monday night at a discussion held at Winston-Salem State University to give students, faculty and staff and the community the chance to talk about the racially-charged shooting death of black teen Michael Brown by a white former Ferguson, Mo. police officer.

Davis, a Civil Rights activist, urged the 60 or so who attended to express their frustrations at the voting booth.

“Can you imagine millions of African-Americans voting? We wouldn’t have had a Ferguson, (George W.) Bush or a war. You’re having this meeting when you should be registering people to vote. That’s the only way we can do it. You can’t talk it down,” she said. “You can talk it to death, but unless we put some action behind it, we will be here next year with another death, another abuse and it will just keep going in a vicious cycle.”

Student Government Association President Olivia Sedwick said it has taken the deaths of a string of black men at the hands of police to awaken and energize African-Americans, especially young blacks.

“As unfortunate as it is, the deaths of Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown … the deaths of these young men are quite tragic, but please don’t take this out of context, they’re necessary,” she said. “I don’t think that we would get to this point of being able to address the societal issues that we have unless we came to this place.”

Denise Nation, an assistant professor of Justice Studies, told attendees that only black lives are devalued in our society.

“If police officers were shooting white kids like this, their society would not stand for it. It would be a totally different reaction … a society where one group’s life matters so little, it becomes problematic. It’s our group so we have to do something,” she said.

Psychology professor Dawn Henderson and Jack Monell, who is also a Justice Studies professor, said black voices must resonate as they call for change.

Professor Jack Monell addresses the audience.

Professor Jack Monell addresses the audience.

“If we don’t invoke change, no one is going to do it for us. And if they do, we’re not going to like the way they do it. If we want change, we have to empower each other,” he said.

Students like Mona Zahir, a sophomore, said last week, when it was announced that a grand jury would not indict Darren Wilson – the officer who killed Brown – was tough.



“I’m still grappling with the emotions that I felt when I saw the decision that the grand jury made. I was crying; I was upset, and I’m angry. I feel like I understand the concept of what black rage feels like,” she said. “I felt like a fool for having some hope or optimism that justice was going to prevail.”

Karim Amin, a member of the Community Mosque of Winston-Salem, decried blacks subjugating themselves without even knowing.


Karim Amin speaks.

“Even when we call ourselves minority, it is making us migrants, meaning that the majority has more of a right than we do. We are not minorities. We are people and human beings,” he said.

Larry Little

Larry Little

Political science professor Larry Little, a former member of the local Black Panther Party, apologized to the students, saying that perhaps his generation gave up the fight too soon. He told them the fight is now in their hands.

“Each generation has to decide how they are going to deal with it,” he said. “You’ve got to take from all of our experiences and you have to figure out what is the most effective way (to fight for justice).”

About Author

Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors