Coahoma Community College alumni spent a piece of the spring season taking a stand against social injustice. Recent graduates, including former SGA president Yasmine Harper (’19), Tevin Boyd (’20), Brianna James, Karinton Johnson (’19), Terrell George, Jerome Washington, and Christopher Body, participated in an empowerment rally held in Clarksdale in early June.
The rally was organized in the wake of the wrongful killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The CCC graduates joined a national fight for racial equality that spilled over into Australia, the UK, France, Ireland, and New Zealand. Some non-Americans were protesting police brutality in their own country, while others stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
At the Delta Blues Stage during the June 6 rally, Boyd spoke with conviction before an audience of protesters saying, “It’s no reason why $12.49 million is invested in jails, and no small businesses are being profited…This doesn’t stop today; this is only something that we have to keep going. When it’s time to make real change, I still need to see you all standing together.”
Harper, a native of Lambert, Mississippi, who is also a senior at Kentucky State University studying political science and psychology, took part in the rally to help push for reform.
“I was initially approached by Tevin Boyd about the empowerment rally,” said Harper. The two established a strong friendship in the Student Government Association. “He gave me insight on what the rally was going to be like and urged me to take part in it,” she added.
“I jumped on board immediately doing anything I could to promote and help the cause and the call for change,” said Harper. “I felt like I owed it to my community and our future to get active and get involved.”
During the rally, the peaceful protesters paused for a demonstration to honor the life of George Floyd. The participants laid on the ground for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck until he was lifeless.
Just days after the rally, which garnered the participation of Clarksdale mayor Chuck Espy and Sen. Robert Jackson, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring police departments to ban chokeholds to be eligible for federal grants. The order permits the use of the chokehold in situations where an officer’s life is at risk.
While the Mississippi state flag stood at the root of social change, lawmakers passed a bill toward the end of June to take down the flag. Mississippians will vote in November to accept or reject a new design. The mandate comes after the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released a decision to bar Mississippi from hosting postseason games due to the flag’s history.
“Changing of the flag has been long overdue,” Harper noted. “A state flag should give off a sense of pride and morale to ALL citizens of that state. Instead, the Mississippi state flag has haunted and taunted people that look like me for years. The change in this one area was necessary for the evolution of our state as a whole.”
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