The controversial shooting death of 18 year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, had a strong connection with the Brown family in Georgia.
Kim Brown was a former English Professor at North Central College and shares her family’s connection to the crowd.
“I remember my son saying, ‘how am I supposed to live in a world that a black man like me can’t drive and can’t be safe around police officers, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know, I don’t know how to survive in this world,’” said Kim Brown.
But when her son took his own life about a month later, Kim couldn’t help but reflect on his words, and how a tragedy as great as a sons death was a universal pain, that crossed the lines of color.
“We forget about the heart, we forget about life, we forget about the fact that sometimes that person sitting next to you, they may not be the same color or ethnicity as you are, but they are suffering from the same heartaches. They feel insecure, they’re worried about their life, they don’t think anybody cares or loves them, and they just need to know that they’re okay,” said Brown.
These beliefs were echoed by the seven panelists who joined together at North Central College for Beyond Ferguson: Race, Class and the Journey to Justice, a talk aimed at opening a dialogue about race.
“You can be an educated adult in America, go to a great four year college and never take a class on race, ever. You can go K through 12 and never know anything about black people except for Martin Luther King,” said Panelist April Yvonne Garrett.
Though education is key, action is crucial, and the panel urged those attending to overcome complacency and take a stand where they see inequality.
“It was the young people who made the civil rights movement a success. We look at the icons of the movement, Martin Luther King and we admire them, but take it from me, it was the young people, the people who were out there on the front line that made it work,” said Panelist Thomas Armstrong.
“You don’t have to be president, you just have to be present, that’s the first start of making change and being a presence on campus and unity and shaking things up and getting as loud as you can to be heard,” said Panelist Brian Johnson.
The college concluded their celebration of Martin Luther King week with a keynote address from Civil Rights Activist Doctor Cornel West.
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