Clemson Prof. Kumanyika and his wife, Saadiqa Lundy, spoke to a group of about 10 members of the OCDP at the Saturday Breakfast on January 24. Both were participant-observers at the recent events in Ferguson, MO surrounding the death of Michael Brown and the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.
Prof. Kumanyika offered a very comprehensive and insightful account of the sources of discontent that sparked large demonstrations. He stressed the largely peaceful character of the protests, despite the media treatment of the events, which focused largely on the disorderly incidents.
As a specialist interested in the role of modern communications in facilitating and shaping social protests, Prof. Kumanyika stressed the importance of cell phone videos of the police treatment of the victim in the hours following his death as an incitement of community anger and disgust.
Despite the frustration and anger that many in the local community felt, he emphasized that the protests were overwhelmingly orderly and peaceful and were designed to encourage dialogue and reform.
Saadiqa discussed the important role of women in organizing the demonstrations and also explained the importance of the young people who were drawn to the events. Both emphasized the critical role of protest in persuading local authorities to bring about policy changes.