NEIU sitting at the revolution table

Cecilia G. Hernandez, Writer

Tamika D. Mallory, an advocate for women’s rights, gun restrictions, healthcare, and ethical police conduct visited NEIU on Jan 16 to talk about sensitive issues in today’s political climate. Mallory is also a national co-chair for the Women’s March and the president of Mallory Consulting, a strategic planning and event management firm.

Mallory is a single mother whose son’s father, Jason Ryans, was shot and killed. She reacted to the gun violence with activism. This eventually inspired her interests in social justice, civil rights, and women’s rights.

Mallory worked closely with the Obama Administration on gun-control legislation during the past eight years, advising Joe Biden on these issues and helping pass bills.

Aimed at Donald Trump’s presidency, the Women’s March in 2017 rallied millions of people from around the world at Washington D.C. to protest the recent acts against human rights, women’s rights, immigration reform and healthcare reform, reproductive rights, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights.

The Women’s March of this year was a reprise in which protests were led worldwide in major cities and towns. The largest turnouts occurred in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta.

Mallory spoke on Jan. 16 at NEIU’s auditorium about the issues that she fights for, after a performance from rapper Mysonne, who had served a few years in prison before dedicating his life to his music career.

Mysonne revealed the brutal street life he experienced involving drugs, violence, and injustice in his lyrics. This also led him to be an active member of The Gathering for Justice, a non-profit organization that seeks to end child incarceration while working to eliminate the racial inequities in the criminal justice system that enable mass incarceration.

Mysonne led 100 people who marched 250 miles from Staten Island, New York where Eric Garner was killed, in Washington, on Oct. 10, 2015.

Mysonne introduced Mallory to the audience, shortly after performing a newly written song.

“Dr. King’s tactics were very different from Malcolm X. All of them were organized in different ways but they were all very necessary. As I was traveling, I heard that this particular university is known to be one of the most diverse universities in the Midwest. I know this institution and its diversity goals mean that you’re already sitting at the revolution table,” Mallory said.

“You are all ready for the fight. We are all in the same book. Many young people think that they are living in a post-racial time, but we know that it is not the truth. As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it’s a celebration that is bittersweet.

“A lot of things have gone on, we’ve made a lot of accomplishments, but at the same time, there are so many leaps and bounds for us to climb over. And even though our children may not feel it, they don’t necessarily know how much racism, sexism, and all these phobias – whether it’d be transphobia, xenophobia – they don’t know how much of it exists until it happens to them,” she said.

Mallory spoke about how not only is MLK Day about celebration but about Dr. King’s untimely death. “We learn about how death itself relates to him. It reminds us that death is not a true ending. We know that what stays alive and what dies is really determined by our actions.”

She continued, “If we do step forward, speak the truth and put ourselves in uncomfortable spaces that give us a powerful legacy, we actually have a life that continues to live and it can breathe into the bones of others and they can carry the torch and continue to do the work.

“So as we continue to be inspired and continue to do the work, we know that our actions can like a footprint in the sand that is really swept away by any tide, or we can be like the cement, a lasting imprint that is bold and lives on from one generation to the next. I want to have some piece of my legacy that is actually etched in the cement.”

Mallory said the importance of being an active member of the community was when more people decide to act, the more change will be likely to occur.

Mallory ended her presentation, “Together, we have a responsibility to be bold in this hour. And not just to be bold, but to be vocal. Bold when you are speaking to people outside. We will speak truths no matter what the consequences may be.”