Rev. Jackson, Page conclude fourth Schuneman Symposium
By Heather Farr
A small piece of paper was all it took to turn the final event of the two-day Schuneman Symposium into a little piece of history. Less than 30 minutes into “From the Other Side of the Lens,” a discussion featuring Rev. Jesse Jackson and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Clarence Page, the crowd watched as one of America’s foremost civil rights figures received word that a small piece of civil rights justice was served: George Zimmerman was being charged with second-degree murder for the Feb 26 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.
Although this was a key event in the ongoing case of Trayvon Martin, Jackson continued the discussion by addressing the fact that this is just a small part in a much larger issue.
“So we have Zimmerman, but we don’t have Stand Your Ground laws repealed in the 24 states,” Jackson said. “He is the mailman when we should be focusing on the post office. We have Zimmerman, but we shouldn’t stop discussing racial issues.”
Jackson discussed how media coverage affects and shapes social movements, from the many historic events in which he was involved to current issues, like the Martin case. He said that events like the shooting of Martin – which is considered a social injustice by many since race may have played a part in his shooting – can serve as a platform to change the way in which people view contemporary discrimination.
“The whole world reacted to [the situation’s] instability and the raw injustice to Trayvon. It’s because there’s a Trayvon in every town,” Jackson said. “More and more, stories like these are coming out. The media wasn’t taking notice. Now they are, and that’s opened it up.”
According to Jackson, the media was also an integral part of the civil rights movement. Before gaining coverage from and access to the media, civil rights leaders lacked an avenue to express and distribute their views.
“The images of people being beaten and dogs biting children in Birmingham – they touched people around the world and Congress in different ways,” Jackson said.
Ashleigh Mavros, a junior studying PR, said that witnessing a discussion between Jackson and Page was a once in a lifetime experience.
“It was remarkable to hear both sides of the story. While Jackson was physically out working for the Civil Rights Movement, Page was covering it as a reporter,” Mavros said. “Both important to the Movement in their own ways, it was inspiring to see the dedication and heart that both of these men still have today when it comes to civil rights.”
At the reception following the discussion, many were able to shake the hands of both Jackson and Page.
“The true effect of meeting someone who has been so influential and whose ideologies align so closely with my own is almost impossible to measure. It was definitely an incredible experience,” Lindsay Boyle, a junior studying online journalism, said.
Experiences like the aforementioned were made possible in large part to OHIO alumni Smith and Pat Schuneman. The captivating discussion between Page and Jackson ended the fourth in a series of 15 Schuneman Symposium. According to senior PR major Sam Bartlett, the event is not only a valuable learning experience, but also an opportunity to meet notable alumni.
“It’s a good feeling to know that they got their education here and then went on to do great things,” Bartlett said. “It’s encouraging to know that they are so grateful for their foundation that they want to come back to Athens and share their experiences with current students and faculty.”