The Derek Chauvin Guilty Verdict Brings Emotional Reaction from Bloomfield College President Dr. Marcheta Davis
The death of George Floyd last year in Minnesota prompted protests across the country. So, emotions were running high before and after the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
That certainly was the case on the campus of Bloomfield College in New Jersey. College President Dr. Marcheta Evans says she was nervous before she heard "guilty, guilty, guilty" and then she broke down in tears.
"I grew up in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement and you know being a Black person, you know what historically happened there and to know here we are in 2021, honestly I was scared yesterday. I was scared that even though we had a video that showed a man being murdered and someone callously sitting there and people begging him to talk off his knee of his (George Floyd's) neck, it still happened and he still died. This is not something that's unusual for a black and brown community or those who have less resources how they get treated unfortunately. Not every person in law enforcement is a bad egg but it's bad enough though that we know that these communities have been disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system. So, even though was saw what the happening, literally in real time as far as the video is concerned, and I thank God for the smart phones with that capacity, it was still that uncertainly that maybe he's not going to be found guilty. And if he's not found guilty, I thought all hell was going to break loose because again the world actually saw this."
Dr. Evans says those emotions come despite all the privileges of being a college president. She stresses she still gets nervous when a police officer pulls up.
"My husband and I have been stopped for nothing basically. You know I was worried. I was anxious. My heart was racing. And when I finally heard the verdict "guilty" on all three charges, one I was shocked it was guilty, guilty, guilty but then hearing it I cried."
The college president sent out a campus-wide email the following days expressing her feelings and how the counselors are on hand to talk with students and faculty about the case and its impact.
"Last year I established and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and we're literally in this very moment during a survey of our whole community looking at how they feel on this campus. Do they matter? Does their voice matter and how they are treated and respected as part of the Bloomfield College community. So this DEI task force will be coming up with recommendations and what are our next steps. Even though we are a minority-serving institution we still need to pause and see how culturally competent we are. You know we've have our Black Lives Matter banner that's hanging from the student center Talbot Hall, that demonstrates to the public overtly this is who we are. We are a predominantly black institution and we're a brown institution being a hispanic-serving institution as well."
When it comes to handing the COVID-19 pandemic on campus, Dr. Evans says she's pleased with the college's efforts but admits it has been a huge challenge.
"Our community has been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Forty-two percent of our students comes from Essex County, mainly Newark, and we know the median family income for our students is 30-thousand dollars, so the resources are very limited for the family. We've had 300 students living on campus. We provided our students with technology as well. Most of our classes have been virtual, we've had some hybrid, with some of our labs we've done face-to-face, but very limited."
New plans have been announced for graduation this semester. Dr. Evans, who encourages all students to get vaccinated, says there will be six in-person ceremonies on campus.
You can see the entire zoom interview with Bloomfield College President Dr. Marcheta Evans at https://fb.watch/53LrlYO3TF/.