L.O.C.K.S. seeks to unify African students


Junior entrepreneurship major John K.K. Jones leads the L.O.C.K.S. group in a discussion about African ancestry in Oscar Ritchie Hall room 214 on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016.

Lauren Rathmell

The League of Conscious Knowledge Seekers (L.O.C.K.S.) brought self-proclaimed “Prince of Pan-Africanism” Umar Johnson to speak at the Kiva on Monday, but the controversy surrounding the speaker had little to do with the message the organization is spreading on campus.

“Johnson was not here to talk about his opinions on women or gay people,” said junior entrepreneurship major John Jones. “He skillfully avoided topics that would be inflammatory to certain groups at Kent State.”

Jones is the president of L.O.C.K.S., which has been on campus for a little over one semester. Jones said L.O.C.K.S. brought Johnson to speak because of the ideas he has about Pan-Africanism and its importance. Coinciding with Black History Month, a month L.O.C.K.S. is celebrating as “Make History Month,” Jones thought that Johnson would be a good fit for this theme.

Jones said L.O.C.K.S. is a group based on Pan-Africanism, an ideology that focuses on the unity of Africans around the world.

“I wanted to create a league of people who are consciously seeking knowledge of self, meaning who we were before the Atlantic slave trade, who we were when we were the masters of our social, political, and economic destiny and what we can do to reclaim that and protect our rights” said Jones.

L.O.C.K.S. ad chairperson and senior visual communication design major Joseph Young said the group offers a setting where he can relate other people’s experiences while learning and discussing ideas relevant to the Pan-African community.

But that ideology does not describe all that the group does. Through L.O.C.K.S., Jones said he is also attempting to provide ways for students to succeed on campus.

With an educational approach, Jones runs L.O.C.K.S. meetings under themes each month, and hosts a workshop or discussion to go along with the themes.

“We discuss themes that are pivotal to creating a society,” Jones said. “Last month, we had arts and entertainment and we will do health and wellness next.”

Ideas for each theme come to Jones by listening to his peers.

“I always hear people complain that they leave high school and they don’t know how to balance a checkbook,” Jones said. “Well, L.O.C.K.S. is an organization that will show you how to do that. It’s important that you are able to function in society.”

This is not the first group of this type for Jones. He started a book club last year where members met and discussed similar Pan-African issues from books they read.

“At the end, there were only about three people showing up,” Jones said. “So I realized I had to change something.”

After talking with the remaining members of the book club, Jones knew where he wanted to go with L.O.C.K.S.

Jones hopes to make a difference with L.O.C.K.S. by teaching the idea of self-love.

“There is so much hate within the black community, and it’s ridiculous,” said Jones. “I want L.O.C.K.S. to teach people to love themselves and when they do that, they will take care of themselves, and by extension, they will take care of their community.”

Lauren Rathmell is a diversity reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].