Opinion: Samaria Rice fit for keynote address

Ty Sugick

Kent State and the May 4th Task Force notified the general public last week that Samaria Rice, the mother of the late Tamir Rice, would be this year’s keynote speaker.

Soon after the announcement of the keynote speaker, social media exploded, as many people did not see the connection to the Tamir Rice case and the May 4 tragedy.

Some of the public also did not see the gathering to be a podium for a Black Lives Matter movement. On Facebook, I read a post ranting about how Kent State ought to be ashamed for allowing Samaria to speak on this stage.

What many critics fail to realize is that, this years focus happens to be Black Lives Matter. The Kent State students who protested against the Vietnam War in 1970 fought for respect and for their voices to be heard, just as many African Americans do now.

In 1970, the students were sick of their government pulling their young men from their families and lives to fight a war that had nothing to do with them. President Richard Nixon promised them that he would bring the troops in Vietnam back home, but then decided to go against his word and continue to increase the war efforts.

The youth of America was sick of living in fear and wondering if their government truly had their best interest in mind.

It took the death of young people by the hands of the government for the world to wake up and realize there was a problem at hand. May 4 at Kent State is a perfect example of it. That’s why it is important to commemorate the event and push to recognize today’s social issues.

The amount of unjust deaths of the youth by the hands of the government (police officers) and even sometimes by the hands of a “Good Samaritan,” in George Zimmerman is out of hand.  Not every case is at fault of law enforcement by all means. But at the same time, it is safe to say there is a major issue at hand and it needs to be addressed.

Every parent wants their child to feel protected and entrust that when their child walks out the door in the morning, they’ll return home. Many African-American parents fail to have that trust due to the fact that it is the people who’s job is to serve and protect have become a threat.

Once again, there are more officers who do the right thing. But there are plenty who are too quick to pull a trigger.

For parents who have never had to tell their child “don’t drive or walk with your hood on at night,” or have never been followed around while you shop or were stared at while entering a new neighborhood, then it’s not easy to understand why someone would feel as if the two events do not relate.

Samaria Rice is fit to be keynote speaker because there is no case more fitting than to have a testimony than this one. So instead of slandering the university, everyone should enter with an open mind and make it a learning experience.

Ty Sugick is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].