On February 22, Stockton University welcomed guest speaker Dr. Amari Johnson, a professor from Temple University, who delivered a speech on a slideshow titled “Where to From Here?”. The speech covered historical events such as the 1865 “40 acres and mule” promise and the Black Star Community. The main idea of this event was to educate, to spread awareness toward Black History month, and to inspire youth to make a difference within their community.
Dr. Amari Johnson started his speech by talking about how immediately after the Civil War, General William Sherman had planned a bill to permit over 400,000 acres of land to more than 18,000 former enslaved families known as the 40 Acre and Mule Act. Things took a turn after Lincoln was assassinated, and the act was soon repealed by President Johnson.
This is related to what Dr. Johnson said is “a historical pattern of hope and betrayal,” and added that, “between 1865 and 1950 over 6,500 human beings were lynched averaging around 1.5 per week for 85 years”
The discussion then focused on the Black Star Cafe and School in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Community Autonomy. The Black Star Cafe and School is a community that was formed for African Americans shortly after the hurricane Katrina disaster during a land grab. The community became a safe haven for African Americans which included a bookstore, cafe, and an independent African-centered home school center.
“A group of people came together to make a world for themselves, and make practice of self determination,” said Dr. Johnson.
The speech consisted of educating the listeners on significant historical events of the African American community coming together time after time. For his closing statements Johnson addressed the current state of the African American community in the US: “It is not to say that we should turn our backs on America. It is not to say that we shouldn’t turn our backs on America. What it is to say is that we should turn to ourselves as a community”
Categories: News and Events, Politics, Stockton News