|Gabrielle Staton and Zachary Ford|
Students Zachary Ford and Gabrielle Staton have formed a group made up of community members and other students that plan to hold a forum next semester to discuss the issues that have been in the popular consciousness following the decisions made by grand juries in the cases of both Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who died following altercations police in Missouri and New York.
With emotions high in communities everywhere and protests taking place across the country, both Staton and Ford are hoping students at Vol State take the break to think about the news from the past few weeks and think of how we can move away from violent and racially-motivated protests that have dominated newscasts recently.
"We want to make this impactful, and we want to make sure we do have a group of listeners. We need to impact new minds. We need to get to those minds who haven't formulated their opinion as to what it is they stand for," Staton said.
Both students hope to have the forum set for early February. By that point, Ford said he believes people will have clearer minds to have a positive discussion instead of just focusing on all of the negative aspects of the unrest that has taken over so many other communities.
"As they go through Christmas break, people will be on their own time. There'll be a new year. They'll see this and think about what they can really do to see change," Ford said.
Staton said there is a larger issue at hand that needs to focus on how to love one another as human beings instead of labeling each other by the color of a person's skin or job. By coming together to promote a message of love and peace, both Staton and Ford hope there will be more work done to move toward a more progressive future.
"Everyone wakes up with the same 24 hours in each day. People need to understand it's what you do with that time that matters, and that's going to dictate how we move forward," Staton said.
For more information about next semester's forum, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out Twitter and Instagram for future updates.