The Civil Rights Heritage Center held a significant virtual event on Thursday, June 11 entitled Perspectives on the Current Uprising. The event, held via Zoom technology, attracted over 200 participants from all ages and walks of life across the South Bend community. The participants were invited to learn more about the recent protests that have placed an intense spotlight over American policing in reaction to the continued documented evidence of police brutality against African Americans across the United States, most recently witnessed in the gruesomely documented murder of George Floyd at the hand of a police officer in Minneapolis, MN.
The CRHC welcomed special guest Kailee Scales, Managing Director of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Action Network Fund and international BLM Network, Inc., joining a local cross-generational panel of activists and young South Bend residents, to discuss the current uprising in the context of prior uprisings in the recent past. The other local speakers were as follows: Brother Sage Gillam, a lifelong national activist focused on African American freedom with a distinguished history working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other civil rights and social justice organizations; Nasir Wells, a 2020 Riley High School graduate who is enrolling at Indiana University Bloomington in the fall; and Nadia Hannah, a young student from Clay High School, who recently gave a stirring, inspiring speech at one of the local Black Lives Matter protest rallies.
Dr. Darryl Heller, Director of the Civil Rights Heritage Center, welcomed all attendees with a brief introduction to the mission and background of both the CRHC and the Black Lives Matter organizations, focusing on the work of the organization’s South Bend Chapter. Kailee Scales shared her experience on the day the news was breaking about George Floyd’s murder. As the Managing Director of the growing BLM Network across the globe, she described learning about the event on social media and sharing a tweet with His name was George Floyd. Say his name for his family. Demand justice. Her tweet immediately went viral and ignited passionate protests among millions of Americans. I feel this one is different, meaning a final catalyst that forces Americans to demand change.
Brother Sage Gillam began his remarks by apologizing to the two young panelists, stating that as a parent, citizen, and activist of his generation, I am sorry for the messed-up world we have handed you. He also welcomed them to join the uprising because they are the future of America. Nassir Wells talked about his disbelief in watching that blatant murder and his shock at the reaction of Americans’ at the delayed arrest of the officer. We [young people] have to do something. he said. Nadia Hannah agreed, stating she felt the murder of Mr. Floyd, for her, was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. She was excited that her fellow youth were joining in the fight against the continued injustice. Hannah said, We need to get involved and not stop speaking up.The hour-long event is available as an archival video, available on the CRHC’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IUSBCRHC.