Mississippi Activist Extraordinaire: Calvert White

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Calvert White is a Junior English Education major at Alcorn State University (ASU). He resides in Clinton, Mississippi where he has lived since he was 8. He works with Mississippi Votes as a democracy and action fellow which gets students registered to vote on campus. He also serves as the current Vice-President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) ASU chapter.

With both of his parents and family members being ASU alumni, White is, in multiple ways, an ASU legacy. In addition to his family legacy, he accepted a full scholarship to ASU in the Spring of 2018. Deciding on a major was a no-brainer for White who was sure being an educator was for him by his Sophomore year in high school. He is a self-proclaimed English nerd and believes the subject gives him room to incorporate social justice into his teachings.

In addition to his passion for education, White is a prominent activist. He serves as a co-lead organizer for BLMSip, the Mississippi chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization. The group arose from a group chat full of concerned Mississippi residents who had a common goal in making Mississippi better. This united mission led to the formation of BLMSip which would go on to organize the biggest protest the state of Mississippi has seen in over 50 years.

White stated, “I would argue that there was divine intervention. I and my other co-organizers had 5 days to make everything come together for the protest.” Within 2 days of planning, donations of water, energy drinks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) came pouring in, ensuring that whoever came out to participate would be well taken care of. Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi and the Jackson Police Department (JPD) were informed of the event beforehand. White does not plan on retiring his activism anytime soon and hopes to continue his work and stay involved in civic matters. He believes that this is his life calling and abandoning it would be an injustice to himself.

In respect to the various tragedies the black community has suffered this year, White has noted that he has found himself becoming almost numb as it has become so easy to log in to social media and find yet another hashtag, name or call to action. He has in these times found solace with the other members of BLMSip, who host a bi-weekly therapy session dealing with the racial trauma associated with being black in America and more specifically Mississippi.

White recognizes the black people in Mississippi as his driving force, more specifically, the young black people in Mississippi. He states,”We find ourselves in positions that were not necessarily created for us and you know we have to force ourselves into these conversations and force other people to hear us so it’s important to me that we create a safe space for young black Mississipians where they don’t have to yell.”
White wants to ensure that young black people know they have a voice and in the event that they don’t, they can make one; they should fight for what is right, not what is convenient.

Onyinyechukwu Chidi-Ogbolu is a Junior Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Lagos, Nigeria. She will be a contributor to The Campus Chronicle for the 2020-2021 school year.

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