As protests continue to occur after the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others killed due to police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement is continuing to push forward and create change both nationally and internationally. 

Kent State presented its first Shaping a Better Future Town Hall over Zoom on Tuesday to discuss the deaths of those due to police brutality and what Kent State’s next steps are. 

Hosted by Amoaba Gooden, the Interim Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Lamar Hylton, Vice President of Student Affairs, the two led the discussion with questions from their emails, from the chat function on Zoom as well as people raising their hand and asking on the call. 

Amoaba Gooden Zoom

Amoaba Gooden, the Interim Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion helped lead and discuss the different questions provided throughout the town hall via Zoom on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. 

“This town hall in particular is to bring us into kind of a first step of [the] conversation because we know that we have to be proactive and we have to be collaborative in whatever we do,” Gooden said.  

One of the first steps taken toward creating an anti-racist campus is creating an Anti-Racism Task Force. 

“We will create an Anti-Racism Task Force that will actually examine how race and racism persistently exist at Kent State University, and then take recommendations from that [and] act on it,” Gooden said. 

At first, it will include a smaller group of equal representation from students, faculty, staff and administrators, but once the task force takes off, more people will need to get involved. 

At the start of the meeting, there were over 280 people in attendance, later maxing out Zoom’s limit on participants with 300 people. People wishing to attend the event waited patiently in the waiting room for someone else to leave so they could be admitted. 

In the beginning of the town hall, University President Todd Diacon and his wife Moema Furtado joined in to discuss the importance of having these conversations and working together to take the steps toward creating an anti-racism campus. 

“We need to work for the day when black mothers don't need to worry if their kids will be harassed, humiliated or killed that day,” Furtado said. 

The two then left the discussion, as Gooden and Hylton requested, to create a safe space for the faculty, staff and students participating. 

“Many of you may be wondering, what’s next?” Gooden said.  

Starting off the conversation with the most asked question, Hylton asked what Kent State is doing and will be doing in the future to create change.

Lamar Hylton Zoom

Lamar Hylton, Vice President of Student Affairs helped lead the discussion and asked the questions throughout the town hall via Zoom on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

“We have work to do right here in our own backyard,” Hylton said. “We have work to do right here on our campus. We have work here to do right on behalf of our students, our faculty, our staff, our alumni, etc.”

He continued to discuss how thankful he was for this question as people at Kent State are consumed by these worries, and many continue to experience this for themselves. 

The discussion continued as people shared different resources with the group to understand more of what is happening, including articles, shows, movies and books. 

Hylton mentioned the hashtag on Twitter, #blackatkentstate, detailing various student experiences with microaggressions from faculty and peers at the university. 

“We still have work to do in those spaces to rid ourselves of those types of behaviors,” Hylton said.

In addition to this first town hall meeting, there will be at least three more within the next few weeks. On June 10, there will be a meeting for people who are black, African American and people of color. In the upcoming weeks, there will be a meeting for allies and student led discussions by Black United Students and Undergraduate Student Government. 

Contact Sara Crawford at scrawf23@kent.edu

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