Wednesday, Sept. 28 -
The Zeta Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha hosted their second Black Man’s Think Tank of the year Wednesday, Sept. 28.
The topic, a look at the correlations of race and the death penalty, was one that has risen in notoriety due to the recent execution of Troy Davis. In fact, Davis’s execution was used as the lightning rod to spark further discussion on the issue at the event.
The night began with a timeline of the known facts of the Troy Davis case and a presentation from Paul Litton and David Mitchell from the School of Law on the legal procedures of the case. After the presentations, the floor was opened up to those in attendance to ask questions and further discuss the facts and statistics of the case. That initial info, in sophomore Jordan Williams’ opinion, was instrumental in providing for balanced responses.
“I didn’t expect it to be as productive as it was but it was because of the professors,” Williams said. “I think getting a perspective from the professionals provided more depth to the event.”
From the onset, senior Jamal Andress made it known that he intended everything that was deliberated on to be rooted in fact. It was something sophomore Chris Blackwell appreciated and claimed isn’t always a staple in forums like these.
“Usually when an event like that happens here everything is opinion-based,” Blackwell said.
Mitchell and Litton’s presence produced questions that might not have been asked without their knowledge of the inner workings of the legal system. For instance, the fact that Davis was considered guilty until proven innocent came as a news flash to a majority of the students.
“Before I heard the professor’s perspective, I definitely questioned the reasonable doubt factor,” Williams said.
The professors also explained how Georgia’s Supreme Court policy on recanted testimonies played a role. The information ran the gamut from the aggravating factors of a cop being killed to the disproportionate rate of pushing for the death penalty based on the victim’s race.
“It really opened hopefully more than just my eyes on how the law works,” Blackwell said.
But the night wasn’t limited to just charts and graphs.
“What ultimately made it effective was that we didn’t just leave the issues on the table,” Williams said.
After the opportunity to bounce around ideas and opinions passed, Andress steered the conversation towards possible solutions. Representatives of the NAACP and the Legion of Black Collegians were present in case anyone wanted to get involved. But the first solution, and the one reiterated, was simply to stay educated and informed.
“I feel like I’ll get more educated and pass the information down to the next generation,” Blackwell said.
Making sure the flow of knowledge doesn’t become stagnant was another point of emphasis Andress focused on. The importance of making sure this tank of ideas boils over and flows into the community was expressed. But for now, it seems as if the Think Tank served it’s purpose in providing an informative forum.
- Terrance Brown