The following was posted on the Green Party’s website on February 28th, 2016:
BOWLING GREEN — Many students were among about 300 people who attended Bowling Green State University’s 17th annual Black Issues Conference on Saturday, a daylong event dedicated to examining topics ranging from criminal justice to politics.
Rosa Clemente, the 2008 Green Party vice presidential candidate, delivered the keynote address at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.
A black and Puerto Rican community organizer, writer, and lecturer from the Bronx in New York City, Ms. Clemente also founded and is president of Know Thy Self Productions, which consults on a broad range of topics such as third-party politics and engaging young voters of color.
In her nearly hourlong speech, Ms. Clemente drew attention to mass incarceration, the school-to-prison pipeline, police brutality, and access to affordable housing and clean water.
Her bipartisan attack took aim at Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, as well as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both vying for the Democratic nod.
“A xenophobic, racist, misogynist is about to potentially win the Republican nomination, and on the Democratic side either way, man, that Democratic party all they’ve done is use our people for their votes,” she said.
Ms. Clemente urged the students to think critically about what’s going on not far from campus. She pointed out that the November, 2014, shooting death of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old who was playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun by a white police officer happened in Cleveland.
In Flint, Mich., about two hours north of Bowling Green, a switch in the water supply led to lead contamination causing an ongoing crisis in the city of about 100,000 with a sizable black population.
“If you’re not part of a movement, I invite you to join one. If you identify as black, I invite you to join the Black Lives Matter movement,” she said. “But if you don’t want to do that, do something. We don’t have time anymore for games.”
Organizers said the conference, held toward the end of Black History Month, is one way the university works to address challenging topics.
Angela Nelson, interim chair for BGSU’s department of ethnic studies, said the event gives an opportunity to bring black issues to the attention of the campus and noted the timeliness of the topics in a presidential election year.
Ms. Clemente “speaks her mind” and “doesn’t hold back,” said Susana Peña, director of BGSU’s school of cultural and critical studies.
“We strive to tackle diversity issues. We strive to have difficult conversations and have productive, difficult conversations. But, we all have a long way to go, so we’re working on it,” she said.