Wes Lowery talks social justice

As freshmen Aliah Fisher greeted students and faculty at last week’s 10th annual Social Justice Lecture Series, she explained her reason for getting involved with the project.

“There are twenty-four hate groups in Kansas. That is what motivated me to get involved,” said Fisher.

Fisher and others gathered in Pierson Auditorium on Oct. 12 to hear Pulitzer Prize winner Wesley Lowery speak about covering the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Lowery’s reporting served as backdrop that night for a broader discussion of race, police violence and the criminal justice system.

Most of Lowery’s address was a walkthrough of the first few chapters of his book, They Cant Kill Us All. The New York Times bestseller tells the story of how he spent three months in Ferguson, Mo. reporting for The Washington Post.

Lowery chronicled how his experiences in Ferguson not only affected him, but also his publication. He spoke of police reporting difficulties, and detailed perceived structural issues in policing and criminal justice in America.

Wes Lowery speaks at UMKC’s 10th annual Social Justice Lecture Series.

Wes Lowery speaks at UMKC’s 10th annual Social Justice Lecture Series.

During his time in Ferguson, common motifs arose.

“The community responded to a clear injustice,” said Lowery. “That’s when I knew this was a different story.”

Residents told Lowery the police had a history of shooting unarmed, black men dead in the streets. Lowery’s question became how to find the “truth buried in disagreement” between the police department, who said this was not the case, despite residents’ insistence.

The lecture lived up to its goal of fostering community through literature and public discussion. Faculty, students and children of all races attended.

One of these attendees, former KC Councilman Alvin Brooks, received a shout-out before Lowery’s introduction. Brooks helped fund Kansas City’s Ad Hoc Group Against Crime and served on Kansas City’s Board of Police Commissioners.

Fisher, also a member of the student organization Diversity Inclusion, looked forward to Lowery’s elaboration on the book, saying her fellow students should “be aware of these issues.”

The night wrapped up with a question and answer session. The most moving comment came from a woman who shared her motivations for attending.

According to this woman, her son recently received a 50-year sentence for discharging a firearm and police station property damage. The case prosecutors originally asked for 99 years.

She fought back tears, hoping to find some answers.

The lecture began with a formal moment of silence for recent injustices across the country and ended the same way, leaving the audience to ponder these injustices during future silences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *