“Black in America” Tour turns to Stony Brook

When asked about the importance of Black History Month, former NBA player Etan Thomas responded with “Every month should be Black History Month.” He was one of four people on Soledad O’Brien’s panel when she brought her “Black in America” tour to Stony Brook University on Monday night.

O’Brien, Morgan, Paulino, and Thomas sit on the Staller Center stage during the Q&A session of the speech.
O’Brien, Morgan, Paulino, and Thomas sit on the Staller Center stage during the Q&A session of the speech.

Thomas was joined by Luis Paulino, a victim of police brutality that was caught on film by a nearby cab driver, and New York University professor of African-American studies Joan Morgan in O’Brien’s talk about how the reality of African-Americans in the United States is rough for them to earn a living.

During her speech, she presented clips of the 2015 version of the documentary she will be presenting later this season, along with staggering numbers that people do not take into account.

She also spoe about the fight of New York City teenager Keeshan Harley, who’d been stopped and frisked over 100 times during the time the “stop-and-frisk” law was in effect.

img_1148Also during the speech, there were numerous statistics that were presented to people throughout the night. A couple of the more staggering numbers: 10.2% of blacks are unemployed, whites are unemployed at a rate of 4.6% are white.

Another important number was that the wealth gap is three times in favor of white Americans than blacks.

Many people were given a chance to voice their opinions in a question and answer session at the speech, and some said that they have afterwards. Gary Martin, 55, a professor at the Stony Brook School of Medicine, grew up during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s He feels like the situation is currently worse right now than it was during the time of Martin Luther King Jr.

“We’ve gone backwards,” Martin said after the speech.

At a press conference before the presentation, O’Brien said she “enjoys reporting on race.” One of the reasons was because she gets to ask those “uncomfortable questions” as she put them.

She particularly enjoyed coming back to Stony Brook, because she is a fellow Long Islander and her dad was a professor at Stony Brook.

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