Rhodes College hosts 'Pain into Power: Weekend Empowerment' symposium

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Friday and Saturday, Rhodes College is hosting its first Pain Into Power Symposium.

It’s an event that aims to advance open dialogue on issues of racism, race, and law.

Among those in attendance: Jerome McCorry, a civil rights leader and the founder and CEO of National Congress On Faith & Social Justice.

Also in attendance were family members of African Americans shot by police officers. That included Veda Washington-Abusaleh, the aunt of Alton Sterling. Sterling was shot to death by Baton Rouge Police in 2016.

Friday, she spoke to others at Rhodes College alongside the other families suffering similar losses, in hopes of keeping conversations alive.

“It’s easy talking to somebody who’s going through what you’re going through versus talking to someone who has no clue,” Washington-Abusaleh said.

Stephanie Cage with Rhodes College helped organize the event. She said the Pain to Power Synposium is the first of its kind at Rhodes.

“Today I hope this becomes a larger conversation. I hope that people feel empowered to use their voice to speak out against things, social injustice in our society,” Cage said.

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One of the purposes of the symposium is to hear stories from family members first-hand. So Friday, Washington-Abusaleh sported a graphic t-shirt that read “When Will It End” with her nephew’s face on it. She also had a notable pair of earrings on.

“My neighbor got me these earrings because she said, ‘they remind me of you,’” she said. “They say ‘Black Lives Matter.’ But I want you to know that all lives matter. Not just black lives. Brown lives, blue lives, yellow lives, white lives. All lives matter.”

Washington-Abusaleh’s story was just one of many at the Symposium. She told FOX13 she encourages others who are suffering similar losses to make sure their stories are heard.

“I’m telling them that I will never stop fighting for justice for my family members. I will never stop fighting for justice for their family members. I will not stop,” Washington-Abusaleh said.

“As long as I have breath in my body, Alton will never die. He’ll never die.”