Kentucky State establishes W.O.K.E. panel to help students process Taylor decision

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) –  Kentucky State University President Dr. M. Christopher Brown II established the W.O.K.E. Task Force to assist students in uplifting, educating, and empowering the campus community and those most impacted by unequal protection under the law.

Brown scheduled a campus-wide Zoom meeting to discuss meaningful ways the University could support students disappointed in the grand jury decision concerning Breonna Taylor. 

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“Kentucky State University students understand Black lives matter and Black colleges’ power and purpose, and recognize the need for their fellow students to organize in an effort to eliminate and dismantle systems that oppress our communities,” President Brown said. 

The W.O.K.E. Task Force is co-chaired by Student Government Association President Kirk Miller and Miss Kentucky State University Yasmine Harper. Additional student members include Mahogany Shelton, Christian White and Savion Briggs. Dr. Erin Gilliam, dean of the Whitney Young Honors Collegium and associate professor of history, vice president for Student Engagement and Campus Life and chief diversity officer Dr. Derek Greenfield, executive director of University College Dr. Walter Malone, business manager of executive operations Nikki McZee, and senior vice president for Brand Identity and University Relations Clara Ross Stamps collaborate with the students.  

“President Brown understands our emotions are broad and varying. He is a scholar on Black colleges and recognizes our history of activism, and supports our efforts to create real change,” said Kirk, SGA president.  

“The Kentucky State University W.O.K.E. Task Force believes Black lives matter and Black colleges matter. We will be unapologetically and unequivocally clear about who we are and the great legacy we uphold. We are dedicated to the successful struggle against injustice, to the intellectual and social uplift of our community, and to living on purpose without fear. We will remain WOKE… wielding our Wisdom, owning our Opportunities, knowing the importance of true Knowledge, and engaging in the Empowerment of marginalized people,” he added.

Current initiatives of the task force include: 

1.    Encourage students to take a photo with a Black Lives Matter t-shirt being distributed by the University on Thursday and Friday. These photos will be printed and displayed on the Hill overlooking Main Street so that members of our community can hear our pain and see our greatness. Students will also be provided with an opportunity to register to vote.

2.    Create Direct Action Training opportunities on campus (in accordance with all safety guidelines) next week and beyond, so that students can receive meaningful education that activates their activism on issues of injustice and offers ways to create sustainable movements for change.

3.    Provide safe spaces for students and employees to continue to share openly and learn from one another.  

4.    Provide on-going and relevant development for students encouraging community action and involvement. 

For students in need of assistance, contact the Center for Emotional Wellness at (502) 597-6271 to help process feelings of anger, frustration and confusion you may be experiencing. To get involved, email woke@kysu.edu.