Shaun King is a civil rights activist who is known for using social media to disseminate stories of injustice, racism and police brutality. He visited Northeastern as the second Winter Gateway Speaker on February 9th. During his visit, King conducted a master class with a small group of students, faculty, staff and community activists where he reflected on his own career paths and how his multiple jobs allow him to continue his activism. As a precursor to his talk later that morning, King discussed his own experiences in organizing and mobilizing social movements. CSDI graduate research assistants Jonathan Osborne and Stuti Kokkalera were able to attend King’s master class in the morning. Both at the master class and at the talk, King discussed his take on “how to make change happen”, which involves organized and energized people, a nuanced plan of action and money to follow through with the plan.
His talk later that morning was guided by Adam Hosein, Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Northeastern. King talked about the success and struggles for justice and their impact on energy within the Black Lives Matter movement. He specifically pointed to moving from crisis to crisis, never having time to construct a detailed plan to address issues like police violence in the Black community. He also advocated for people to get involved in local politics if they want to make real differences for their communities. On a national scale, King pointed to a lack of organization within the Democratic Party around fund raising and management, as reasons for failures in elections around the country. He also pointed to the continued increase of money in the federal budget for military defense as a cause of deficiencies in things like housing and education. He shared an anecdote about moving to Irvine, CA, which is mostly white, and noticing the stark difference between police sit-ins there (very few) as opposed to other places he had lived. This made him realize that white people define safety differently for themselves than for people of color, and this distinction correlates to policies and outcomes for people of color.
After the talk, King answered questions from the audience delivered through email and twitter. The questions ranged from how he understood the intersection of Christianity and activism, gentrification in Boston and nationally, union organization, and media representation. A quote that resonated with the audience came in response to a question about how he sustains his own energy through all the ups and downs of his work: “All of Black life is not a struggle.”
For more information about the talk, please see: Shaun King at Northeastern
Photos courtesy: Sabrina Gabriel, Northeastern Crossing and Stuti Kokkalera, CSSH