John Jay College of Criminal Justice

01/17/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/17/2020 10:29

Honors 2020 Alabama Civil Rights Trip: Acknowledging Sadness and Anger

Throughout the Alabama Civil Rights Trip, Nicholas Smith '20, a Law and Society major, has exuded confidence, compassion, and calmness. His questions are insightful. His fellow Honors students look to him for advice. And, his perspective during the reflection sessions is always met with nods of agreement. But there was an emotional toll that Smith was paying-especially being a black man visiting sites and seeing photos where African-Americans encountered extreme violence, simply for existing. Trying to make sense of his thoughts and feelings-and to express his understandable sadness and indignation-Smith wrote an essay describing the essence of his anger.

His Essay
Visiting the Southern Poverty Law Center was a very emotional experience for me. I found myself battling a range of deep sadness, and other times, intense anger. I was angry, angry that black people faced state-sanctioned terror simply because they dared to better their social circumstance and distance themselves from their captive past. This anger grew even more intense when I thought about the parallels between the days of Jim Crow and America today.

'I was angry, angry that black people faced state-sanctioned terror simply because they dared to better their social circumstance and distance themselves from their captive past.' -Nicholas Smith '20

We are still being terrorized and oppressed by state-sanctioned legislation and policies that disproportionately affect black people and communities of color. I am angry that we are still being killed by the state without much accountability or redress. I am angry that we truly have not learned from our past and history is repeating itself. The criminal justice system continues to fail and even persecute black communities and communities of color instead of protecting us. We are still in a fight for our lives.

Read more about the Honors 2020 Alabama Civil Rights Trip: