The Campus Y and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. hosted “50 Years After the Dream,” a panel on race and the justice system, to discuss the racial issues still affecting the country and college campuses today.
Harmonyx, an a capella group of the Black Student Movement, serenaded the audience to begin the event, which was part of the University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. week of celebration.
Alan McSurely, local civil rights attorney, opened up the panel with the story of the South’s discriminatory past and the popular grapes of wrath verses found in the Book of Jeremiah.
“Help the University to face up to its own liberal brand of racism,” McSurely said. “Study these tricks of the liberals and ask them to repent and be saved. I’m talking about Chancellor Folt on down now.”
McSurely said there is a misguided version of history being taught in Saunders Hall, which was named after a former Grand Dragon of the state Ku Klux Klan, and charged the audience to take action.
Kalil Duncan, Phi Beta Sigma’s vice president of programs, said the panel was specifically chosen to include people who were knowledgeable about race but represented different backgrounds.
Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said she went to school for social justice because she saw the potential it had to fight racial discrimination. But she said she’s spent most of her time trying to reverse subconscious racial bias in the social justice world itself.
Irving Joyner, a law professor at N.C. Central University, said he respects the work of black movements on college campuses, but he’s upset the attention is limited to national holidays.
“You have had experiences of racial discrimination. And those of you who haven’t — wait until tomorrow,” Joyner said. “This movement cannot succeed without you. It will not succeed without you.”
Orisanmi Burton, an anthropology doctoral student, said the judicial system circulates its own ideas on the value of different races, and the police system is historically based on white supremacy.
“Police are here to protect and serve, but that begs the question — to protect and serve what?” Burton said. “To be black was either to be either a slave or to be a criminal.”
Burton said white privilege is a concept that some people are never going to be able to comprehend, and he said equal rights advocates should speak to the people who will hear it.
“I would argue today that the black man and black woman and brown man and brown woman are exiles in their land today,” Burton said.