Community activist Yvonne Pointer shared her tragic story that led her to encourage students to speak out against injustice at the second “90 Minutes” event.
After her 14-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted and beaten to death on her way to school in Cleveland, Pointer decided to devote her life to becoming a voice for the voiceless.
“It was service that saved my life,” she said. “When you have endured such a horrific episode in your life, you need a reason to exist.”
After she corresponded with a boy in Ghana who heard her story, Pointer visited Africa and was inspired to help the community by building a school. Last August, she opened the Gloria Pointer International Education Center in Ghana, and as of today, the organization is ready to begin construction on its fourth school.
Pointer said that despite her uncertainty, she could not ignore the devastation she saw in Ghana.
“I came back with the determination to do something,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t know what to do, but you just know you have to do something.”
Pointer also commented on violence in today’s communities, including the killing of Tamir Rice in her hometown, saying that every person should ask themselves what they can do to stop it.
“Evil can only prevail when good people do nothing,” she said. “The only way it continues is if we act like it doesn’t exist.”
She suggested the solution lies in open and honest dialogue between law enforcement and the African-American community.
“It is heart-wrenching to know that so many young lives no longer exist,” she said. “No one had the right to take their lives. Violence is almost becoming the way of society, and we have to be the voice that cries against it.”
Senior journalism major Zahara Pruitt moderated the conversation and said that being able to interview someone with such an incredible story was a big deal for her.
“A big reason for going into journalism for me was because I always wanted to be able to help out the voices that were unheard,” she said. “Seeing someone who committed so much of her life to doing just that, it was incredible to get her perspective.”
Pointer said she makes a conscious decision to remember the good in life while still staying attuned to the injustice around her.
“It could be someone sitting right next to you in class that has an issue that you can help with,” she said. “I think that we need to open our hearts and try to be available and just know that you can make a difference.”