Forum tackles racism

The University’s Student Alliance for Cultural Development and the League of Pissed Off Voters sponsored a forum titled “Election 2004: Trends and Trouble of Race in America” Tuesday night in the Benjamin L. Perry Jr. Building.

The purpose of the event was to increase student awareness of the connection between racism and the voting process.

The speaker of the night, Corey Johnson, a FAMU alumnus and researcher of topics related to blacks and the political process, said racism is causing a decline of black involvement in politics.

“Some of the same racist beliefs, assumptions and practices that so terrorized the black community are now affecting the world,” Johnson said.

The forum included audience participation as Johnson involved students in a game he called “The Real Education of the Negro.”

The game included a series of pictures of celebrities such as Bill Cosby, Mike Tyson and Kobe Bryant. Johnson asked the audience to identify them. Once they did, Johnson provided a display of a different set of people. He posted several pictures of politicians, whom the audience was unable to identify.

Johnson said he created the game to prove the point that blacks know

more about entertainers than they do about some of the people who can affect their lives.

“People do not know who is in control, how they got in power or how they operate,” he said. “The young, in particular, seem to be too distracted to meet the challenge of educating themselves so they do not become obsolete.”

LeAndra Padgett, the Tallahassee organizer of the League of Pissed Off Voters, said Johnson’s focus on a wide range of topics inspired event organizers to invite him to speak.

“He does not just talk about voting. He talks about other ways we can improve our status and standings,” said Padgett, a FAMU alumna.

Johnson said blacks could improve their social standing by investigating racist trends in the government that impact black voters.

In his discussion, Johnson mentioned disparaging trends such as names of blacks being placed on the felon list that should not be there, stating they are often placed on the list because blacks tend to sway the election by voting for candidates in the Democratic Party.

Students who attended the event said they walked away with insight about voting and education.

“My eyes were opened to a lot of things because I was skeptical about voting. I gained information about politics and how it relates to minorities,” said Shontell Willingham, 20, a junior elementary education and psychology student from Jacksonville.

“I was overwhelmed at how oblivious we are as African-Americans,” said Dyamond Case, 19, a junior criminal justice and psychology student from Jacksonville. We just have to open our minds and our souls to the facts.”

Avery Brewton, the community activities coordinator for S.A.C.D., said the goal of the alliance is to help blacks increase their consciousness about their history.

The League and S.A.C.D. will sponsor more events to continue educating voters between now and Nov. 2, including a forum Saturday at noon on FSU’s campus and a “Trick or Vote” event to be held Sunday. The location of the event has not yet been determined.

Students who want to get involved with the League of Pissed Off Voters can contact LeAndra Padgett at (850) 575-6003.

Contact Mika Cooper at