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SCSU Murder Represents Layers Of Tragedy
1/31/2014 12:21:53 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Here we go again. Another senseless Black on Black murder rocks and shocks the Black community. This time the murder took place at South Carolina State University.

Jan. 24 a 20-year-old SCSU football player was gunned down outside a dormitory at the SCSU campus. Allegedly, he was shot by another football player after the two had been arguing.

There are a lot of layers to this particular homicide, but superficially, it’s like dozens more homicides committed in our community - two young Black guys have a beef, usually about nothing substantial, one pulls a gun and shoots the other - typical stuff that repeated itself some 20 times in Charleston County last year.

Lest I sound too callous, let me say I know this was no typical affair for the people involved, either in this particular homicide or any of the others. For the people involved, loved ones were lost either to the grave or criminal justice system.

Like many in the community, my heart pours out over this incident. Two sets of parents sent their kid to college thinking they were putting them on a track to a productive life. And up pops thug violence to snuff out both their burning flames.

How did that happen. Those kids aren’t thugs, they’re college students! I don’t know either of the kids, but it turns out I know one kids’ grandparents. Damn good people, religious people. The boy’s folks are hard workers who make valuable contributions to our community. How did this happen?

It was just last week I wrote of an interview I had with Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen who said too many young people feel they must resolve conflicts with violence. Somebody talks about your momma, pull out your gun and shoot ‘em!

Okay we might expect that on a street corner somewhere, but those boys were in college! We send our best and brightest to college. Why are college kids acting like they ain’t got no better sense?

Next week, South Carolina State University will observe the anniversary of the Feb. 8, 1968 murder of three students in what many of us know as the Orangeburg Massacre. Thirty-two people were shot by S.C. Highway Patrol State Troopers who fired into a crowd of demonstrators. Most were shot in the back.

Four people died in that mass murder - two college students, a high school student and the unborn baby of a pregnant woman beaten by police. Ain’t this murder something to happen right before the observance?

SCSU has an unmatched history of excellence. Since 1896 the school has produced some of the greatest minds in the country, minds that have educated subsequent generations of great minds. Oh, my family alma mater, Claflin College which is next door to SCSU also produced some humdingers, but SCSU has been the joint over the years. Those halls are revered because of the calibre of students there.

It would be unfair to stereotype all SCSU students as having the same mentality that contributed to last week’s campus murder. But it also would be unrealistic to think that there’s only one knuckelhead walking the campus.

It scares me to think how many of our young people are so scatterbrained. I run into them every day on Charleston streets. Now to be forced to realize there are many walking the halls of our colleges and universities as well, makes me shutter. These are the people who in the future will lead our communities.

That makes it all the more important that our community begin emergency actions to put our kids back on the right track. We can’t allow money-grubbing movie and music businesses to brainwash our kids with a steady diet of sex and violence.

What does it mean when a kid gets straight A’s in school then comes home and kills all the neighborhood cats? And it ain’t cute when a three-year-old gets in an adult’s face defiantly challenging authority.

Black folks, we have got to move outside the box. Yeah, I say Black folks. Sure white kids are shootin’ up schools, but it’s our kids who are dying in disproportionate numbers on the corner and now on the campus.

For every kid killed at Columbine 300 die in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. And some 30 die here in Charleston each year. Ya’ll, this ain’t no game. When the violence moves from the corner to the campus, it’s past time for us to get busy.

SCSU Board of Trustees Chairman William Small said last week’s campus murder was a real tragedy for the families of those involved, the SCSU family and the community. He added his assurance that the campus is safe for other students.

I believe him. But folks, the tragedy also is that we have allowed the epidemic of violence that plagues our community to enter our esteemed halls of wisdom. An even greater tragedy would be for us to allow it to continue.

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