VCU NAACP Town Hall tackles pivotal topics of discussions

Photo by Aila Castane

Andrew Crider

Photo by Aila Castane
Photo by Aila Castane

On Wednesday night, the VCU NAACP hosted a panel of community and student leaders to discuss a variety of topics ranging from the #BlackLivesMatter movement, community health and racism in the United States. The forum was a part of a larger series of town halls in the Richmond area in advance of a planned march commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Million-Man March. The march, titled “Justice or Else,” will be held on Saturday, Oct. 10 in Washington, D.C.

The panel addressed a number of topics including, prison incarceration, systemic racism, and causes for disenfranchisement before answering prepared questions before answering questions from the audience. Several generations of NAACP members and supporters were at the meeting. The age gap between college-age activists and senior community leaders promoted powerful discussion during the forum.

Senior African American Studies Major and VCU NAACP member Aaron Roland was one of eight panelists. For Roland, the forum was an opportunity for members of different generations to discuss their differences in order to organize for the march.

“I think tonight really was a unified forum of both prior generations and newer generations,” Roland said.

During the discussion, different observations and challenges were discussed.

“There were conflicting personalities and conflicting perceptions but I think the one great thing about it was that it allowed us to come together as a unified front,” Roland said.

According to him, the forum brought the generations of activists together. “It allowed us to find that common ground and actually unite our perceptions,” Roland said.

Community activist and student leader at a local mosque Tracy Muhammad, who sat on the panel, also felt there was an opportunity for dialog.

“It gave us a chance as conveners and organizers for the march to get a chance to listen what’s on the hearts and minds of some of our youth and VCU college students,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad said that the forum allowed for a sense of unity to be developed that will help organize the march.

“I think there was a certain synergy that will help us in the days and weeks ahead, to help organize and mobilize for 10/10/15,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad went on to say that VCU had an important role to play for the upcoming march.

“We are in close proximity to the nation’s capital, so the organizing and the mobilizing effort from vcu are going to be very important,” Muhammad said.

Director of Community Engagement and moderator of the panel Evandra Catherine, also shared the same sentiments as Muhammad. Catherine believed that VCU helped enable and spark the necessary discussion.

According to Catherine, VCU’s diverse population enabled good panel discussion.

“The role of VCU is bringing diverse populations together, our students of course, and their life experience and backgrounds together and dialog,“ Catherine said. “I don’t think that would have been achieved on a campus other than a campus like VCU on one panel.”

NAACP @ VCU will be having a general body meeting Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Virginia Room C & D (located in the Student Commons).

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