Elijah Clarke, Staff Writer
Armstrong welcomed numerous special guests for a student panel discussion at “Deconstructing the movements beyond the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and #SavannahLivesMatter.” The event was hosted by Armstrong’s NAACP chapter and students were encouraged to wear all black clothing.
Elaine Mills led the event alongside three panelists: Lorenzo Mcdonald, a Savannah native who started the hashtag #SavannahLivesMatter; Armstrong graduate and professor Cristopher Brown; and NCAA chapter president Kym Medouze.
The discussion began with the question, “What is a social movement?” Nashia Whittenburg, head of Multicultural Affairs answered, stating, “A social movement, in more simplistic words, is when a person or group of people seek awareness and change in their environment/community, for a particular issue, and hopefully for the better.”
Professor Brown added to the definition saying that for something to be a social movement, it needs to be strategic. “There needs to be a reason why you chose to do whatever you did to seek awareness.”
Questions were directed to the panelists and audience throughout the event, including how social media has aided different social movements.
NAACP chapter member Malejah Armstrong said, “Social media gave everyone the power to get whatever they need to say out to anyone out in the world who’s also on the internet. Millions of people can see one post. Plus it ends up informing people on stuff the news or government tries to cover up from the people.”
The history of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and its beginnings in 2012 after the death of Trayvon Martin, was discussed before Mills directed questions to the panelists.
Mcdonald explained that he thinks the Black Lives Matter movement needs to make a larger impact on society before touching on why he started the hashtag #SavannahLivesMatter. 2015 saw the most deaths since 1996 in the city of Savannah and Mcdonald sought hope for a change through starting the local social movement.
“It’s not the police killing black people, it’s black people killing each other,” Mcdonald said during the discussion.
Maxine Bryant, a criminal Justice Professor here at Armstrong, confirmed Mcdonald’s statement adding “the number of blacks killing blacks is actually much higher than whites killing blacks in Savannah. The media doesn’t choose to highlight this as much. We need to unite, and stop taking power away from ourselves.”
The panel discussion ended with a screening of Beyoncé’s latest music video, “Formation.”
Junior Art Education major Kadeshia Cooley said, “This event definitely raised some awareness in me about the Beyoncé controversy.”
The panel discussion was just one of many events held throughout February at Armstrong to celebrate Black History Month. Like the discussion about the Black Lives Matter hashtag, many other events sparked further conversation about the black community in today’s society, particularly locally.