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Behind the Black Experience with Shaun King

Photo by Devin Nelson ’19

On Thursday, March 30, Emmanuel College was fortunate enough to host a Through the Wire event with Civil Rights Activist and writer, Shaun King. King, now 37, was a victim of a hate crime in high school. He credits the incident to the fact that he is biracial. King’s experience led to further investigation into racial disparities in America and how we treat people of color.

King claims the deaths of Michael Brown from Ferguson, Missouri and young Tamir Rice were events that initially prompted his desire to speak out. He frequently referenced both the Black Lives Matter movement and social media as the forces behind exposing the disturbing treatment of many African Americans.

The Hub attended the event, which took place in Emmanuel’s Library Lecture Hall. King began his speech and frequently referenced Leopold van Ranke, a historian. King notes that van Ranke started his passion for history.

“People were confusing the steady improvement of technology with the steady improvement of humanity…if society is getting better, how do we explain the Rwandan Genocide?” King said, criticizing the misconception van Ranke exposed.

In recent years, there has been an increase in deaths of African Americans by police. Some argue many deaths were unwarranted. With the help of social media, the Black Lives Matter movement erupted. The movement was able to show their outrage to shootings of black men such as Eric Garner and Terrence Crutcher. They also highlighted racial issues inherent in these crimes.

“I’m seeing a level of solidarity I’ve never seen in our lifetime,” said King of growing support for BLM and Civil Rights. “We thought all we need is to have people aware and we’ll have justice.”

However, we have also seen a huge spike in incarceration rates since 1960, King explains. The U.S. leads the world in number of incarcerated people per capita. These incarcerations often target more African Americans than white Americans.

“This is not broken, it is designed to work this way,” King said.

King, an outspoken Democrat and avid Bernie Sanders supporter, also showed his criticism of recently elected President Donald Trump. Trump, who led a campaign and began his presidency criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike, has hit a record low 35 percent approval rate at this point in a presidential term, according to bipartisan website Gallup Daily.

“We have a President who lacks fundamental character,” King boldly stated during a video of one of Trump’s campaign rallies.

The video depicted a young African American woman attending the rally. She was neither a protester nor a supporter, but was harassed and thrown out by surrounding supporters. They believed she was there to cause harm. Later in the rally, Trump called for her dismissal, saying, “Get her out of here.”

King’s presentation was one of inspiration to raise awareness about an issue he, among many others, still knows to be a challenge for many to recognize in our nation.

King’s speech can be seen in its entirety via Buzzfeed News. Follow King on Twitter and Facebook for further updates on his campaign against violence toward and the mistreatment of people of color.

Written by The Hub Staff Writer, Devin Nelson ’19. You can reach out to him via email at and on Twitter @nellydevin.

Posted by on April 6, 2017. Filed under Around Campus,Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.