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LU event designed to amplify the voices of young people

Lamar University is hosting a virtual community town hall meeting Tues., June 23, at 3 p.m. designed to help people, specifically high school and college students, understand this moment of racial unrest and mobilize them to respond.

The meeting will feature nine panelists, all leaders in the community, moderated breakout sessions with interactive discussions. The event will be free and open for community participation at www.lamar.edu/changemakers

“We want to use the resources that Lamar University has to support young change makers in their pursuit for equal justice for Black Americans,” said Kelly Brown, assistant professor of Educational Leadership and event co-organizer. “We’re asking local leaders, activists and advocates to share their knowledge and offer inspiration.”

Brown and her co-organizer Kathryn Washington, an assistant professor in Educational Leadership, have developed three themes of the event to lead all of the discussions. The themes include “crucial conversations about race” “Black women in the movement” and “mobilizing for sustainable change.”

“Using these main topics, we’ll seek to identify ways we can sustain conversations, keep the momentum of this movement going and educate young people about the importance of voting,” said Washington, who will moderate the “crucial conversations about race” breakout session with Porchanee White, a clinical instructor, Educational Leadership. “We hope to have meaningful and focused conversations so everyone who participates will gain insight.”

“Black women in the movement” is included to recognize that women oftentimes are the backbone of the movement for racial justice. “We need to talk about the role of women and how we can help sustain black women for the struggle going forward,” said Brown, a moderator of the breakout session with LaKeitha Morris, associate professor, Speech and Hearing Services. “Black women play a really unique role in the movement towards racial justice, and we need to examine that and talk about the support we need to keep going.”

The “mobilizing for sustainable change” theme seeks to educate all people about the importance of voting.  “In the long-term, we must focus on the process to change the leaders who do not support the fight for racial equality and equity,” said Washington. “So, let’s talk to young people about voting and other ways to hold elected officials accountable.” Johnny O’Connor, assistant professor-lead dissertation specialist, Educational Leadership, and Donna Fong, clinical instructor, Educational Leadership, will facilitate these discussions.

These three topics will guide the panel discussions; however, each panelist will have the opportunity to provide his/her perspective. The panelists include:

    Dr. Ken Evans, President of Lamar University;

     Ehsan Zaffer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security- Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

    Zena Stephens, Jefferson County sheriff

    John Eugene, President of 100 Black Men Beaumont Chapter;

    Michael Cooper, President NAACP;

    Zenobia Bush, National Council of Negro Women;

    Dr. Shannon Allen, Superintendent BISD;

    Dr. Rahn Bailey, Asst. Dean- UCLA/Charles R. Drew University School of Medicine/Bailey Psychiatric Associates

    Rev. Oveal Walker III, Pastor of Mount Cavalry Missionary Baptist Church.

    Karlton Johnson, kinesiology, teacher education

    Kynnedi Jackson, Top Teen, Beaumont United High School 

“Our goal is to offer a town hall meeting where Lamar University centers the voices of young men and women focused on positive changes toward social justice,” said Brown. “The event will give participants the needed information and resources to be a positive and active change maker.”

The event will be free and open for community participation at www.lamar.edu/changemakers.