BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
“We shall overcome. We are our brother’s keepers. We are Mike Brown,” chanted 20 or so Bethune-Cookman University students as the rain came down Tuesday afternoon. The students encircled a statue of university founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune for a prayer vigil as violent protests and rioting continued in Ferguson, Mo.
The students were protesting the decision of a Ferguson grand jury not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The students sang spirituals such as “Amazing Grace” and held black signs that read: “Justice for Mike Brown.”
B-CU Student Government President DaQuan Bryant, who organized the vigil, admonished the reaction of many on social media, “It should not be about what they’ve done to us, but about how we will strategically respond to that treatment to ensure that it’s not duplicated. Educate my people on how to be proactive, and just in case we missed the opportunity to deter, effectively react to injustices.
“As a people, let’s stop doing things for attention, but let’s strategize on how we can ensure that our efforts are impactful and meaningful. I can promise you that the responses that I am witnessing, will not give us desired result,” Bryant added. “We must educate, empower and ensure!’’
Vigils such as the one held Tuesday afternoon were duplicated at other HBCUs across the country and local churches have organized vigils as well as a town hall style meeting to discuss the plight of the African-American male in the United States.
The Rev. L. Ronald Durham had called for all residents of Daytona Beach to gather Tuesday evening Nov. 25 at Greater Friendship Baptist Church. Said Durham, “We pray for the family of Michael Brown killed in Ferguson Missouri, as well as for that community, our own community, and for our nation.”
Another community leader and pastor, Bishop Derek T. Triplett along with Hope Fellowship Church, hosted a Getting All Males Equipped (G.A.M.E.) community forum on Wednesday titled “The Future of Black Men in America.”
The forum tackled questions such as, “How do we avoid the death of the next Mike Brown? How do we avoid another egregious grand jury verdict of the next Officer Darren Wilson? How do we prevent senseless rioting and lawlessness within the context of injustice? How do we raise and elevate Black America and America at large?”
In a statement from the church, Triplett said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Another question posed to the forum was: What makes this ruling different from all the rest?
“As we imagine the future for Black men in America, we cannot ignore the fact that African-American males are often at the receiving end of negative experiences often tied to their racial status,’’ Triplett noted.
“Young Black men are often presumed to be criminal wrongdoers. They are stereotyped as violent, aggressive, up to no good. This perception shadows Black men, many of whom have stories of the car doors that lock when we walk past, the purses that are clutched as we approach, the glances laden with the expectation that we will do wrong,’’ Triplett continued.
“As a parent, I worry about our children encountering the police, or private individuals. We worry that the wrong move or attitude may leave our child sprawled on the pavement, yet another victim of a person armed with a gun who felt threatened.”