By: Nicole Sahbaee
The Justice or Else Town Hall took place on Friday October 9, 2015, the night before the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. Students from Howard University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Tennessee State University, Arizona State University, and Philander Smith College came together in Cramton Auditorium to listen to and ask question of the seven Justice or Else panelists.
Jamilah Lemieux, the Senior Editor for EBONY magazine, began the discussion by asking each panelist to give a brief introduction. Associate Professor and Chairman of Afro-American Studies, Dr. Gregory Carr, started off by giving some insight on the first Million Man March in 1995. Dr. Carr said, “There was a flood of people coming to the mall, a flood of black excellence. It was the best of our people.
Lemieux then stated, “So much of organizing takes place online nowadays. How can students get involved and make a difference off of social media?”
Jessica Pierce, the National CO-Chair of Black Youth Project 100, answered the question by saying, “We need to organize in our own community. Organizing is building relationships while mobilizing is doing something with those relationships. Organizing happened before President Obama and before Martin Luther King Jr. The hard work is going out there and building those relationships.”
Shae Harris, the Deputy Director of The Office of Returning Citizens, followed up by stating, “Coming from the nonprofit world, I had to learn how to navigate within the system. We can’t continue to ignore the marginalized population and to do so it is critical that we change the system.”
Samantha Master, black-queer-feminist activist and member of Black Youth Project 100, added, “You can build consciousness collectively and push back against those who have problematic opinions, even if those are your elders.”
Towards the end of the panel discussion Anthony Driver, President of the Howard University Political Science Society, and Malik Thomas, Minister and Activist, answered some audience questions. The audience questions involved the contemporary relevance of HBCUs, the 2016 presidential election, and Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter.
The Justice or Else panel ended with the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the assurance that everyone would be meeting the next morning to march to the National Mall for the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.