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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

‘Justice for Josiah’ kick-starts push for change in Chico

Ka Lynda Watts reads a poem about the struggles of people of color in a prejudiced world Photo credit: Mitchell Kret

Students for Quality Education in collaboration with Just Unity Sistas presented “Justice for Josiah,” an event commemorating David Josiah Lawson, a Humboldt State student and president of Brothers United. In addition to paying tribute to his memory, attendees also felt this was a time to push for social justice in Chico, especially on campus.

Adela Gutierrez-Diaz from SQE introduced the event and explained what had happened to Lawson.

“Josiah was killed at a house party, in what many witnesses believe to be a racially-charged incident. Many witnesses have said police were more concerned with crowd control than with Josiah’s life,” Gutierrez-Diaz explained. “He was only about a five-minute drive from the hospital, however, an ambulance didn’t arrive for over 20 minutes because they were delayed by the police.”

Marqia Smith, president of JustUS, discussed the creation of JustUS as well as some upcoming events they have planned.

“JustUS, or Just Unity Sistas, was created around three years ago. We wanted a black sorority on campus and felt we weren’t represented, even in the multi-cultured sororities. We were looked at differently,” Smith said.

The discussion led to events the two groups are planning and plan to contact other groups to align with support their causes.

“We are planning a march on May 7, for civil rights leaders of all backgrounds and communities. People like Cesar Chavez, Nipsey Hussle and Larry Itliong, a Filipino activist,” Smith said.

SQE is a statewide organization within the CSU system, fighting injustice in higher education.

“(Our state-wide goal) is to push for more resource centers for all students, whether it’s medical care or mental health or any other basic need that everyone deserves,” Gutierrez-Diaz said.

Ka Lynda Watts is the vice president of JustUS and read out a powerful spoken-word poem about living as a black citizen in a prejudiced world. She and the other leaders welcomed people of all backgrounds to suggest ideas of how to effectively push their cause.

“This right here is where we get this started,” Watts said. “Coming together and talking about making things happen for our community and end the silence. Even our people are guilty of complaining about the intolerance, but now we are going to stand and be heard by the community and by the administration…This is a great start to kick off something greater.”

Both SQE and JustUS will continue to have events and can be found online on Facebook and Instagram at ChicoStateSQE and JustUnitySistas. Their march is being held May 7, and they will be planning in the upcoming weeks, welcoming ideas for what exact message they want to send, and how to send it in the best possible way.

Mitchell Kret can be reached at [email protected] or @mkret222 on Twitter.

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