What was Broward College’s First Step in the Right Direction to Combat the Racial War?

Arianna Allen

Online and Podcast Editor

Broward College came together as one community on Friday, June 5, 2020 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. through a virtual Student Town Hall for students, faculty, and staff to attend in regards to the racial injustice that our country has been facing.

According to the Student Services email that was sent out promoting the Student Town Hall, the purpose of this event was “…to provide a safe place to listen and to support our students, and determine strategies improving our community.”

Broward College decided to take the first step in the right direction of creating a place to listen and learn.

The Town Hall was set up in a panel format that included various individuals with diverse backgrounds while being moderated by Professor Rudy Jean- Bart. The panelists included: Wayne Boulier, Associate Dean, Institute for Public Safety; Dr. Kenny Felix, Professor of Psychology and Licensed Mental Health Counselor;  Kisha King, Associate Dean, Social Sciences, Behavioral Sciences, and Human Services; Dr. Robert Morris, Professor of African American History, member of the Executive Committee of the Miami Dade Branch of the NAACP and advisor to Broward College Chapter of NAACP and Minkah Harmer, Accounting Major, Honors Student at Broward College.

Each individual was given time to discuss their respective area of expertise to allow the viewer a deeper level of understanding and education of the material covered. This two-hour experience allowed for knowledge to be broadened, hearts to be softened and ears to be opened.

The virtual zoom session started with Boulier, Institute for Public Safety, expressing the pain that his heart is feeling at the moment. Boulier then provided a PowerPoint slide that included the Broward County Chiefs of Police Association and Florida Police Chiefs Association statements in regard to the tragic event that happened to George Floyd which both acknowledged the senseless, inhuman and inexcusable death of Floyd while also demanding that change needs to happen and solutions need to formulated.

Boulier also addressed the criteria for the Broward Police Academy, giving insight in regard to the requirements of the training that the Police Academy goes through, also recognizing the need to grow and promote change through open communication and dialogue.

Dr. Felix discussed the physical internal effects of racism on the human body. He then went into detail concerning the questions “how can we respond? Or cope with the experience of discrimination, injustice, or mistreatment to bring triumph and overcome the struggle?” Dr. Felix answered these questions with cognitive, behavioral, relational, and social strategies and the spiritual component. These are all coping mechanisms that are necessary to take care of our mental health during our current reality.

Dr. Felix gave many tips for cognitive coping mechanisms; however, one specific example was the idea of optimism reiterating that we have the ability to bring positive change to society leading with love and harmony.

For the behavioral coping mechanism, Dr. Felix encouraged the viewers to take care of our bodies by remaining physically active, taking time to relax and to breathe. While also encouraging the relational and social strategies of “staying plugged into a healthy community that uplifts your inherent value.”

He also reminded the viewers about the importance of the spiritual component playing a role in how the human body manages and responds to trauma, emphasizing spirituality will assist in the process of overcoming trauma.

The panel then turned to Kisha King to add background knowledge to assist in answering the question about “Why we protest.” King began the presentation reminding the students that this was a presentation for the student to give us the opportunity to have sobering conversations while learning from our past.

King split the answer about “Why we protest” into two different time periods discussing the oppression from 1619 to 1877 providing many examples such as the Dred v. Scott case and then from 1877-1965 providing examples of the failure of reconstruction to the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Plessy v. Ferguson case. King provided the listener with many examples, the ones above are just a few examples that were discussed.

The question “Why we protest” provided historical evidence for “When we have protested” allowing examples such as Sarah Redman, Frederick Douglas, and the Civil War as positive impacts on American culture and society. King went on to state that “sustained protest could force needed change.”

After the insight that was provided by King, the panel discussion shifted to Dr. Morris who discussed what is next after the protest… Dr. Morris provided a 5-point outline to help guide ways to promote effective change.

Dr. Morris’s 5-point outline includes:

  1. Join an organization
  1. Engage in community service
  1. Educate others
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  1. Advocate for legislation
  1. Run for office

The College reiterated several times the importance of the meeting being for the student evidenced by the various polls throughout the session to hear feedback from students as well as having a question and answer session at the end to allow students to express their concerns, thoughts, and experiences.

In addition, Minkah Harmer, a Broward College student, was on the panel to add input and advocate for the students. Harmer reiterated several times the need for increasing the education of history.

During the Question and Answer segment, Dr. Morris also provided information about a mobile justice app, which allows you to record the interaction with the police officer. Another crucial piece of information that was discussed during this time, was Henderson Student Counseling at 954-424-6916.

The Student Town Hall ended with President Haile giving a personal experience of the racial oppression that he had felt at one point in college. Evidencing that this was a time to hurt together as one, to feel each other’s heartbreak and vulnerability but to also realize that we will rise together to fight for each other during this time. No soul, no race, no ethnicity, no religion, no sexual orientation, no gender, no person will be discriminated against.

We were created for a purpose regardless of our differences. Our world would be a better place if humanity learned to love our differences, rather than suppress them and minimalize them.

I’ll leave you with the words of President Haile in a recent email that was sent out, “It is not possible to be consumed with hate, and simultaneously love each other the way we must to manifest our mission to serve you. Our choice is love.”

If any questions were not answered, students can contact townhall@broward.edu with their questions. If you were unable to participate in the June 5 Town Hall, you may access the recording here. To listen to The Observer Podcast episode #2 discussing the Student Town Hall access it here.

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Photo Courtesy of Broward College Zoom Recording


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