Students and alum at Prairie View A&M University are coming together to create a building on campus dedicated specifically to race and culture.
- Now we have talked about the bills named after George Floyd. Those are still making their way through the legal system. But something tangible that we have seen happen already is at Prairie View A&M.
- Yes, ABC 13 reporter Erica Simon is live to talk about the university's new Race and Justice Center. Erica.
ERICA SIMON: Well, if you remember, after George Floyd was killed a number of corporations and groups came out proclaiming Black Lives Matter and said they wanted to address racism. Here at PV, they aren't just talking, they're walking the walk and making sure not just students, but now the entire world understands injustice and the role race plays.
- To proactive steps to reclaim our sense of direction.
ERICA SIMON: It's a vision that was born June 2020 and now it's here, the Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice.
- The center is both a research, policy, and implementation center. That is we want to have faculty engage in research about some of the best ways to understand racism, to understand race, and the role of race in our past.
ERICA SIMON: Prairie View's new center is named after the university president. It's not in a physical building yet, but the structure is there. In addition to research, there will be symposiums, and lectures, and outreach to corporations on how to implement diversity. Students will also have the chance to take a race, class, and gender in America course.
- And at some point, we're hoping that that course will eventually become a required course that all of our students will have to take at some point during their time at Prairie View.
ERICA SIMON: With everything that's gone down this past year and the nation having a social awakening, both at home and in the streets, students and alum feel the time is right for this center.
- We've spent a lot of time marching, a lot of time talking, a lot of time crying about things. And to have something that will actually be able to action a lot of what we are feeling, a lot of what we are thinking, to bring it into a more tangible manifestation.
ERICA SIMON: Even though a number of issues that will be discussed at the center focus on Black, Brown, and other oppressed groups, the goal is for everyone to learn how racism and discrimination got here and how we can work to fix it.
- There are lots of people who, I believe, are open to the idea of a multiracial democracy, but don't understand the ways that our society has been structured to keep some people on the bottom and some people on the top.
ERICA SIMON: Even though the center just launched last week, officials aren't wasting any time. There's an event planned called "Black Life in the Shadow of COVID" coming up on April 6th. There's online information that you can see the list of events and things that they're already doing. They certainly hope they can reach a wide audience.