Oakwood students have ‘What’s next’ meeting after protests

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A quiet Sunday meeting was filled with ideas from the same minds that brought a massive demonstration to the Rocket City.

"Last week we had a rally and march Friday night," said student body president Tahjai Conkerite.

Hundreds of peaceful protesters walked through the streets of Huntsville to stand for equality.

"The thing that impressed me was the discipline of our students, and that's consistent with what we think we specialize in here," said Dr. Leslie Pollard, the president of the university.

Now that the marches are over, Oakwood students have one question that prompted the meeting.

"Whats next? What do we do after the marches? So we came together to have a dialogue together on recommendations on how we can positively impact our community," said Conkerite.

"We're collecting ideas, recommendations, suggestions to cobble those into a working document and then begin working with the city," said Pollard.

The students are proud of the turnout, but they now want to address the core of the issues they see.

"Marches and rallies can only go so far," said Conkerite. "It makes people feel good to be united and it evokes a lot of emotions, and that's great, but after that, we need a call to action."

Students brought up everything from the need to vote to possible petitions. School and student leaders intend to put together a strategic plan to begin a working relationship with the city.

"Mayor Tommy Battle has assured us that we want to make sure our students are heard and that everyone concerned about their quality of life in Huntsville gets a hearing," said Pollard.

Oakwood student government officials say they plan to have more forums in the spring to add to the dialogues they will have with city administrators.

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