NORMAL, Ala. – More than 140 years ago Alabama A&M was founded by William Hooper Council, a former slave who was once sold on the very land where the school now stands. Now more than ever, faculty wants that story to empower students here.
Tonya Perry, professor and social work, psychology, and counseling chairperson at Alabama A&M, wants to remind her students of their value and how important their voice is.
The fight against systemic racism and social injustice has been an ongoing fight for hundreds of years for those of African American descent or of color and this year more than ever the divide has been blatant.
It was in her home where she felt the anguish, that she could only think most were feeling, she felt hopeless and thought there was nothing more that could be done.
“For me in June and this was after George Floyd’s murder, I was sitting at home and I was feeling hopeless and I can’t feel hopeless because I have to be able to model and encourage our students.”
That moment led her to call her friends and start the Coalition For Justice Through Civic engagement, where students could register to vote and be educated about what is happening.
The coalition and its volunteers educate and register potential voters on the Alabama A&M campus.
Monica Clarke, co sponsor of the civic engagement team was one of the first to agree with Perry that the youth are the ones who will make the change and she was ready to do whatever it was to make sure they were counted and heard.
“We need leadership and guidance for our students and our civic team is in a place where we can provide that. we not only register our students we educate them,” Clarke said.
Through tragedy comes change. Erica Fox Washington with WJAB radio on campus knows that’s what happening and that people all over have had enough.
“Now was the time and those that have the heart for equity, equality. No matter what the gender is, race is your color is, it has affected everybody. so this was the time for all different walk of life to participate and that includes right here in Huntsville,” Washington said.
The coalition has seen people in the community come together. Not just one race, but all races, backgrounds and culture.
With all this unity, Perry wants to remind everyone, “we see race right? And so we see phenotypically we are different, right? We are different on the outside, but really this is an illusion because underneath there’s only one race of people and they are human beings.”