CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – A member of the Black Lives Matter movement will speak at Coastal Carolina University Tuesday night as part of the third annual Ella Baker Day. A student group is planning a peaceful demonstration in opposition of the university's choice of keynote speaker.
Ella Baker is known as the Mother of the Civil Rights movement and one of the nation's greatest activists. Universities across the country, including CCU, hold symposiums in honor of Baker in April every year. This year at CCU, Janaya Khan was chosen as the keynote speaker. Khan is a global ambassador for the Black Lives Matter movement. According to the event organizer at CCU, Khan has become a leading voice in the global crusade for social transformation, justice, and equality.
The event is co-sponsored by CCU's Social Justice Research Initiative, Multicultural Student Services, and Department of Sociology. The event is designed to honor Baker and recognize her belief in the potential and dignity of every person. Dr. Deborah Perkins, the CCU associate professor of Sociology, helped organize the event. She hopes it will foster discussion about democracy, social justice, and how to create a more just and ethical society.
"I really want students to understand that they can be a voice for social justice and social change," said Perkins. "I want them to understand what some of these current issues really are and to really open it up for conversation and dialogue around injustices that we face in our world and how they can be a solution for change."
The public is welcome to attend the address at 7:00 p.m. at the James J. Johnson Auditorium. The event is free.
Not everyone is on board with this event. The student group Coastal Carolina Conservatives is concerned with the university's choice to sponsor a speaker from the Black Lives Matter movement. A leader with the student group says the movement is characterized by anti-law enforcement rhetoric and it condones violence with a divisive agenda. So they are planning a peaceful demonstration during the event.
"A bunch of people who are standing in solidarity to first support our law enforcement and first responders," said Cody Fongemie with the Coastal Carolina Conservatives. "And second bring a very clear message that every single American's life matters the same amount."
The group wants to honor Ella Baker and the civil rights movement, but believes the university had better and more local options to choose from for a speaker.
"The Black Lives Matter Movement would have Americans believe that white-on-black homicide, especially when law enforcement is involved, is disproportionate and systemic," said Aron Winburn with Coastal Carolina Conservatives. "And that simply is not the case. The annual FBI report on crime in the US states that from 2009 to 2013, 83 percent of whites were murdered by whites. And 91 percent of blacks were murdered by blacks."
The group intends to hold the demonstration at 7:00 p.m. and the public is welcome to join.