By Talea Carlock
Note: Talea Carlock ( in the above picture) is a 19-year-old HBCU student who lives in Columbus, OH. She participated in a protest movement for the first time. This reflection was developed from a series of interviews with Carlock between June 6th and 8th obtained by Morgan Hall and Historianspeaks.
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Black Lives Matter Now and Always Will! Say my name: Talea Carlock. I am a 19-year-old, African American sophomore at Wilberforce University, the nation’s oldest Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU). As a Black girl growing up in a white world, I have never truly discovered who I am until attending an HBCU. I was surrounded by Black culture and excellence. There is long tradition of Civil Rights protests led by students from similar institutions. From the first time I arrived on the illustrious campus of Wilberforce University, I was taught the history of African Americans and drew strength from it.
My newly found world came crashing down when my 18-year-old friend from Wilberforce University, was shot and killed by a police officer in Columbus, OH on May 31, 2019. Nyal Dawson was a Biology major at my HBCU. He was bright, talented, and well-loved by the campus community. There was no media attention regarding his death. His life was overlooked by news reporters and the community. I was deeply saddened by the loss of my close friend and devastated that no one cared. A year later, on the anniversary of his death, I felt compelled to join the protest for my friend, my nephew, my brother, my father, and my future. That morning, I woke up with a feeling in my heart that was unexplainable. Initially, I did not want to protest or be involved in another death of a Black person. As this was something, I had seen many times in my life and on social media. I learned of George Floyd’s murder from social media. I was mortified yet somehow accustomed to seeing Black men dying at the hands of the police. I was “sick and tired of being sick and tired “
I traveled downtown and joined the crowd of protestors of all cultures and backgrounds. The protestors were peaceful but had the potential to become violent because of aggression by the police and counter-protestors. We were peacefully protesting when a white supremacist came face-to-face with proud and determined Black woman. I knew the reaction he expected, but with the support of the fellow protestors behind me, I stood with my fist held high and looked him right in the eye. Good is destined to triumph in the face of evil. I was walking afterward when a man looked to me and said, “I believe you have something to share.” This comment took me by surprise. As I began to speak, words poured out from my heart before the group of protesters and officers. The crowd grew silent as they listened. At that moment, the story of my deceased friend touched their hearts. I recounted my life experiences growing up on the East side of Columbus. Those experiences included police brutality and racial discrimination in Catholic Schools. I let them know that the Black people in my life were more likely to die from violence at the hands of the police than natural causes. It surprises me that Black people must have a calm and collective mind while the police hold a gun at our heads. After I spoke my emotions came over me. Far too many people informed me they could relate to my story, I finally felt like my voice. A host of other sociopolitical issues arose during the protest, including the coming presidential election. But the overall emphasis of the protestors was the need for reform of police policies and consequences for their actions. We must always hold ourselves to a certain standard. Where we are now, we are not set up for success we need socioeconomic reforms., entrepreneurship, and education. I protested to get the pain off my chest and that of my people.
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Previously published on Historianspeaks.org.
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Photo credit: Talea Carlock