(IN)Justice For All

Le Moyne students travel to the Syracuse University Schine Center to listen to a panel on racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

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“I miss my son. I was ready to watch him grow into a man,” said Leslie McSpadden through teary eyes, as she sat in front of a large crowd of students and professionals. “Now I have to go on SoundCloud to hear his voice and I have to look at pictures to see his face. I hate that I have to sit on this stage.”

On the stage of the Syracuse University Schine Center last Wed. night, there was a combination of emotions, discussion and education shared between the “(IN)Justice For All” Panel, which included Sybrina Fulton and Leslie McSpadden, the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown respectively.

McSpadden and Fulton talked about the emotional journey their lives have turned into since the loss of the their sons; Michael in August of 2014 and Trayvon in 2012.

Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, said that since her son’s death her life has changed drastically.  After quitting her job and moving into a new home, Fulton took up traveling and speaking on gun violence and an awareness to racial profiling. Fulton also discussed the life of her son, who she described as an affectionate, outgoing, everyday teenager.

“I believe their is a purpose to everything,” said Fulton. “One day I opened up my hand and I had nothing in my hand but tears, and I told myself that I could be better than this. I told myself I could be stronger than this for my son who is deceased, and my son who is here on Earth. I could do better for somebody else’s child who might have to go through this.”

Leslie McSpadden described her son Michael as a quiet and ambitious young man, who enjoyed video games and fishing. She said at their last gathering, their family went fishing, staying out all day because Michael was determined to catch a fish.

A group of Le Moyne students were among an audience of approximately 1500 students and community members that gathered on Syracuse University’s campus to listen to the esteemed panelists, which also included CNN journalists Sunny Hostin, and Fredricka Whitfield.

“I thought of the In-Justice panel as a great initiative to keep college students thinking about issues in our greater national community,” said senior Kwasi Yeboah, who attended the event. “The panel reminded me how important it is that I do what I have to do and do it well so that I may go out into the world and do my part to work against injustice in whatever form I encounter it.”

Benjamin Crump, the president of the American Bar Association, and the Chief of the Dept. of Public Safety at Syracuse, Bobby Maldonado were also members of the panel.

Maldonado was able to show the point of view of law enforcement, saying that law enforcement officers should should focus on being peacekeepers before crimefighters.

All panelists participated in a discussion of a variety of topics including victim blaming, racial profiling, Black Lives Matter and the role of the media in this new age of inequality and misunderstanding. CNN analyst Sunny Hostin even described the Black Lives Matter movement as the new civil rights movement.

Over the course of the evening the large crowd remained engaged, laughing together and brought their hands together many times to support the words of the panelists. Questions were also taken from students in the audience via Twitter, and there was a talk-back session following the two hour event event.

The aim of the panel by students at Syracuse University was to bring insight and conversation to the campus and the surrounding community. The event was sponsored by the National Pan Hellenic Council at Syracuse University and was inspired by on campus protests by students last year.

Le Moyne students participated in similar protests last year on campus, and those who attended the panel recognized the importance of spreading the information and culture  to our campus as well.

The simplest way a college student can work to make a difference is to be an example. It’s one thing to talk the talk, but if one’s actions perpetuate injustice,their talk is empty,” said Yeboah.  “The world needs better people, and those of us who want to make a difference must start there.”