The University of Maryland’s NAACP student chapter held its annual State of Black Leadership panel at Hoff Theater on Thursday. For over ten years, the panel has been held to facilitate discussion on possible solutions to the issues affecting the African American community.
Panelists for the event included College Park Councilwoman Danielle Glaros, Reverend Heber Brown III of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, Black Lives Matter organizer April Goggans, radio personality Angie Ange, Baltimore activist Joseph Kent, UMD professor Dr. Joseph Richardson and nominated UMD student Kayla Tarrant.
Panelists addressed questions on hot topics such as the legalization of marijuana, representations of African Americans in the media, white privilege and cultural vs. political activism.
To start the conversation off, panelists considered whether or not our nation is currently in a state of revolution with a resounding “yes” coming from every speaker. “We [African Americans] have been in a state of rebellion since we were brought here from Africa,” said pastor Heber Brown III.
“Racism in this country is deep,” said Councilwoman Glaros. “For those of us that are white, it is a challenge to … question white privilege; it challenges people’s sense of self.”
When asked if they had ever done anything to be considered more respectable by white counterparts in a workplace setting, Tarrant said, “Professionalism and respectability politics are not the same thing.” Goggans stated that being deemed “respectable” will never solve problems for African Americans in this nation.
Halfway through the program, NAACP board members invited audience members to tweet them questions they had for panelists. One student asked panelists to weigh in on the importance of cultural versus political activism. Kent emphasized unity in the cause, no matter an individual’s political abilities.
Angie Ange told the audience that “both are necessary,” and that individuals who are apart of the movement should contribute according to their personal expertise.
From Richardson, “If you would like to see more change, you need to be fighting for more black faculty on this campus.” In his closing remarks, Brown advised students to “critique what is and create what needs to be.”