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A Letter to HBCU Students

I write when I am bothered…I am bothered tonight.

Dear Benedict (and all HBCU) Students,

All day, I have watched social media and news with horror as protests borne out of an act of racial violence – the murder of George Floyd – turned to violent demonstrations and even riots. As an African American I fully understand the hurt, anger and utter frustration that drives us to this point. The psychological trauma inflicted on African Americans every time a black life is cut short unnecessarily by a uniformed officer, cannot be understated, nor can it be dismissed. However, we must govern ourselves strategically and with discipline. We are strong, resilient, committed and brilliant. We must organize, plan and use our collective voices to bring about the change we seek.

I am asking you to do three (3) things:

1) Control Your Coins – Consistent, sustained economic pressure. We must stop spending and investing our money into businesses that do not respect and appreciate our buying power. Do not shop in stores where you are followed, ignored or treated rudely. We must never reward ignorance or disrespect. Today we have seen individuals post cruel and racist statements, jokes and pictures. Take note of where those people work. Report them and refuse to support the businesses that employ them.

2) VOTE. NEVER allow an election to occur without casting your VOTE. Educate yourself on the issues that impact our communities and vote out prosecutors and other elected officials who turn a deaf ear on the needs of our people. Attend candidate forums, write letters, attend meetings, volunteer and yes, donate to the campaigns of the candidates you believe in. History has demonstrated that we are a powerful voting block and when we show up!

3) Get Educated. Benjamin E. Mays said, “Whatever you do, strive to do it so well that no man livng, and no man dead, and no man yet to be born, could do it any better.” Commit to learn something new each day. Strive for deeper understanding. Be thoroughly educated on the issues so that you can advocate intelligently for the things that matter. Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by sound bites. Study, read and ask questions. Embrace knowledge!

Students you are POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE! They want you to riot so they will have an excuse to cage you like an animal or worse! You have the right to peacefully assemble and to demonstrate to make your feelings known. But don’t just hold a sign – write a letter. Don’t just yell in protest – call your Senator, Congressman, Mayor or Prosecutor. Don’t just assemble – organize.


Now govern yourselves as the Kings and Queens you are.

President Artis — with Roslyn Clark Artis.

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