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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

ToroTalks overshadowed by controversial guest speaker

Guest speaker Shaun King sits next to moderator Michael Russ during the ToroTalks event on South Campus April 21. Alex Hoben/The Collegian
Guest speaker Shaun King sits next to moderator Michael Russ
during the ToroTalks event on South Campus April 21.
Alex Hoben/The Collegian

JUAN SALINAS II
senior editor
juan.salinas465@my.tccd.edu

South ToroTalks Summit had controversy surrounding the speakers of this year’s event. 

ToroTalks started in 2019 when three Black South Student Government Association members had an encounter with a campus police officer. This sparked a need for an event to discuss different cultural viewpoints. 

The main speaker for this event was civil rights activist Shaun King. 

He has been criticized by journalist Ernest Owens on Twitter, where he referred to King as a “grifter.”

South speech instructor Tim Matyjewicz said ToroTalks should have highlighted ordinary people like Wayne Lynch, founder of the Donovon-Wayne Lynch Foundation, instead. Matyjewicz said Lynch advocates for “reasonable and rational changes such as establishing citizen review boards to review questionable incidents.” 

“We have invited a panel to our campus and have included some charlatan race hustlers,” he said. “I don’t use that term as hyperbole.”

Matyjewciz said Tamir Rice’s mother criticizing King after meeting him back in 2021 is enough to justify that characterization. 

He also brought up how Texas Rep. Jasmine Crockett — also a speaker at ToroTalks — received a cease-and-desist letter for using Botham Jean’s name in her campaign.

Matyjewicz said faculty members that don’t go along with the “unofficial campus agenda” are going to be viewed by others as a “right-winged, racist nut job.”

South education professor Jeffrey Herr said he wants people concerned about the event to join the conversation because that is the only way progress occurs.

“There’s no question that some, more privileged members of our campus

and district community will question the summit’s line-up, its focus and ToroTalks’

mission and vision altogether,” Herr said. 

Herr said ToroTalks is still a work in progress, but that “it’s gritty, reflective and provocative.” He hopes it will give students the confidence to push back against dominant and inequitable policies. 

“The students in attendance will dictate the direction these future talks and

summits will take,” Herr said. “It’s that potential confidence that I believe will serve as a catalyst for moving our programming forward.”

King discussed various things at the summit, such as how students can influence change in their community to the legislator and activist dynamic, but he also addressed the criticism. 

“I think that some of the people that started telling that lie hoped that I would stop raising money for families, and I won’t,” King said. 

King said he did an experiment and saw that when he didn’t show up to support a  family, no one stepped up to take his place. 

“I’m more committed to the work than I am to my own reputation,” he said. “If people expect me to curl up into a ball and not do this work anymore, it’s just not in me [to do that].” 

South Student Ricardo Miller Jr. found the summit insightful. 

“It was amazing, and he gave so much great knowledge,” Miller said. “He spoke to me personally on what we can do for activism and how to see change.” 

The newly elected South Student Government Association President Karina Calderon found it helpful to understand the different struggles that Hispanics and Black people face in today’s society. 

“It was so enlightening to hear Shaun King’s story and how students can help make a difference in their own lives and community,” Calderon said.

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