Former Secretary of Education William Bennett made a controversial comment Sept. 29 on his radio station. He said “If you wanted to, if that was your sole purpose, if you abort every black baby you would reduce the crime rate.”
Many listened in anguish, some including students at FAMU. As a result, the SGA held a rally Wednesday at 6 p.m. to protest the future of Bennett’s employment and the overall misrepresentation of blacks in the media.
As students gathered at the Eternal Flame to extract their First Amendment right, guest speakers rose to the occasion to speak on the recent comments made by Bennett.
Bill Proctor, political science professor and Leon county commissioner, set the tone of the rally by reviewing the recent comments and voicing his opinion of Bennett’s comment.
“When William Bennett suggested that all black babies be aborted he suggested that of what Hitler suggested-genocide,” Proctor said.
Proctor continued by stating the impact of Bennett’s statement as one that struck a painful feeling in the hearts of many in the black community. His comment was one that deliberately attempted to discourage students trying to fight through the stereotypes of being black in America.
Proctor also questioned Bennett’s commitment as the former Secretary of Education to advocate education for minorities.
“It makes you wonder if he believed this when he was in office or if he stood for anything in the interests of black people,” Proctor said.
Furthermore, Proctor brought up several questions in reference to President Bush’s recent Supreme Court nominee, Harriett Miers, and the noticeable racism targeted at victims affected by hurricane Katrina.
“Now how is it that a woman who is inexperienced gets a nomination to become a member of the Supreme Court? Does her whiteness just wipe out qualifications that we all must adhere to?” Proctor said.
As a solution to his question of the recent nominee, Proctor encouraged students to challenge the government and to value the importance of voting in order to make a change.
Reginald J. Mitchell, Director of the Tallahassee People of the United Way and Florida Legal Counsel, was also present at the rally.
Mitchell began by recalling his college years at FAMU when he and several students marched to the corner of Monroe and Tennessee Streets to protest against members of the KKK.
However, what Mitchell remembers the most about the rally was a comment made by one of the white supremacists, who said: “that he was not racist, only race conscious.”
After elaborating on the comment by the white supremacist to students at the rally, Mitchell continued by suggesting ways to continue to protest against Bennett’s comment such as boycotting FOX news, the channel Mitchell refers to as “the angry white man’s channel.”
In addition to Mitchell’s statement, many students throughout the rally were seen passing a petition that would do just that in the fight against Bennett’s comments and networks that support him.
Mitchell suggested that students become active advocates of voting in the upcoming 2006 elections and to speak out against Supreme Court nominee, Harriett Miers, and other forms of racism across the country.
“Do something about politicians electing inexperienced people to office by attending state and local meetings and writing to various officials,” Mitchell said.
Following Mitchell was Monique Gillum, a 19-year-old sophomore senator, who encouraged students about her faith in the effort to abolish racism.
However, Gillum, a political science student from Gainesville, left students with something to think about after she insisted, “faith without work is dead.”
In closing the evening’s rally, Proctor motivated students to continue to fight against racism by providing those present with several photos of students throughout the Civil Rights movement.
“See! You look at these pictures and you see black men going after what they believe in and now it’s your turn to do the same,” Proctor said.
Contact Christina Hordge at firstname.lastname@example.org