Posted on January 26, 2017
In April 2015, the Lowcountry found itself the focal point of the media as the world seen an unarmed man retreating and being killed by a North Charleston police officer. Direct action protest across the region ignited calling for justice to be served as national and international media came to the Lowcountry to cover yet another life taken by someone paid to protect and serve.
Two months after the killing of Walter Scott by NCPD officer Michael Slager, Charleston experienced yet another unimaginable tragedy as Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Church became the site of a domestic terrorist attack. On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, terrorist and white supremacist, Dylann Roof, opened fire on parishioners gathered for bible study seeking to be the catalyst of a race war. The nation stood at a standstill as people tried to wrap their minds around how such an act of hate could happen in the 21st century. The nation mourned with the Lowcountry and many used the tragedy as an opportunity for unity and understanding.
It is through these events that the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) was conceived. As many sought to gain understanding of how blatant acts of malice were occurring in a “post-racial society”, others viewed the events as the offspring of festering white supremacy and racism that institutions neglectfully allowed to go unchecked. The RSJI was formed to open the streams of dialogue regarding issues that affect the community with the hopes of moving toward proactive change as opposed to reactive. Through public programming, community outreach, and research we at the Race and Social Justice Initiative will do our part to “right the ship.”
Therefore, the Race and Social Justice Initiative at the College of Charleston is committed to the fight for justice. We are committed to the struggle for equality and fair treatment of all people in the Lowcountry and beyond. We will advocate for the voiceless and seek to empower the powerless. We openly stand against the institution of white supremacy and all the privileges pertaining thereto. With this charge, the Race and Social Justice Initiative at the College of Charleston will actively seek longstanding systemic change to a system that has much too often proven that it works against minorities and the lower class. As the trial of Dylan Roof and the retrial of Michael Slager travel the long round of the justice system, we at the Race and Social Justice Initiative will do our part in educating, facilitating, and promoting the dialogue of race and social justice and will support all who believe in positive and productive change.