A group of four prominent human rights activists came together Thursday night to discuss methods to politically and socially combat human rights issues.
The event, titled “Human Rights: Organizing in Today’s Social Climate,” was hosted by the Lambda Xi chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity in the Student Pavilion on Oct. 19.
Moderated by on-air personality Pokafase of 101.1 FM's "The Beatlocker,” the event focused on pressing human rights issues like inequality, racism, police brutality and immigration.
The panel was organized by Phi Beta Sigma member and ASU alumnus, Lamar Piggee with help from the fraternity’s current president, Johnell Murphy, a communication senior.
“So, basically, our goal was to just open people’s eyes to what it is and what human rights looks like," Murphy said. "We wanted to focus on the human being and what it’s like to say 'I’m a human being in America' and what are some of the injustices that are taking place.”
The event started with a speech from Francisca Porchas, the organizing director of Puente Human Rights Movement, who discussed the injustices done toward immigrants, specifically in Arizona. She is also the healing and wellness coordinator for Puente, so she focused on the health side of the movement.
“We gotta take care of our heart, we gotta take care of our spirits, and we gotta take care of each other,” Porchas said. She said that the stress of being an immigrant has several negative effects on the mind, body, and spirit.
Charles Muhammad, a student minister in the Nation of Islam, spoke next, focusing on the prison system and the lack of rehabilitation for incarcerated individuals.
“Let’s just get this straight: there is no rehabilitation in the prison system," Muhammad said. "That’s not what it’s for. The prison system is for punishment and to try to break you down.”
He said the Constitution never included people of color, and that all people God placed in a geographical area share a common heritage and a common story, and it is important that everyone comes together to unite. He said he was very pleased to be a part of an event that supported freedom, justice and equality.
Mysonne, a hip-hop artist and a member of Justice League NYC, testified about a conviction that put him in prison for seven years. Mysonne said he was convicted wrongly due to the color of his skin.
He said he is now used to being treated poorly, especially since his name is familiar to the prison system.
“I understood that as a black man in American, there’s a different playing field," Mysonne said.
Mysonne said he and Tamika Mallory, a fellow activist at the event, were kicked off of a plane due to a racist pilot a few days previously. Because of the different "playing field," he said he decided to not say anything because he knew the severity of the consequences that would likely arise if he defended himself.
Mallory, the co-chairwoman of the Women's March on Washington, said experiences like she had on the plane make her want to get involved and help find possible ways to combat all the injustices she and her colleagues discussed.
"I march, I speak, I organize," Mallory said. "Every one of us has some way that you can be in it. But not being in is not okay.”
She said that those who aren’t able to get involved are counting on those who can to be a voice in their defense.
With this and other events, Phi Beta Sigma hopes to raise awareness of human rights and the injustices that even take plac on campus.
“Our goal tonight was just to bring in a different crowd to come in and hopefully sit and soak in the message that our panelists were giving,” Murphy said.
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