This Monday marked the five-year anniversary of the death of Sandra Bland. The event is forever intertwined with Prairie View A&M University, a historically black school, where Bland was a graduate and planned to start a career in education. It is also where police pulled her over, and took her into custody, three days before her death.
Melanye Price is a political science professor at Prairie View A&M and author of the book “The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race.” She told Texas Standard host David Brown on Friday how Sandra Bland’s legacy lives on at her alma mater.
“I think Sandra Bland has expanded the way in which [students] think about Waller County and its politics,” Price said.
The student body has always been politicized, but historically focused on issues of voter rights.
“Now they focus not just on voter suppression but on the ways in which the students are habitually over-policed. The students are the largest, probably, bloc of voters in the county but they are also systematically seen as somehow enemies of the county,” Price said.
Tributes to Bland are sprinkled across campus. Her picture is posted on bulletin boards and the university road is now renamed Sandra Bland Parkway. And of course, current events – the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd – serves as a constant reminder.
“Every time one of these things happens, it leads our campus right back to Sandra Bland. It leads us right back to the moment, in our own front yard, a member of our own Panther family was taken from us,” Price said.
In Price’s Black politics courses, students always bring up Sandra Bland. She says her classes remember Bland as a representation of “the best of us;” as someone who stood up for her rights and was not afraid to speak out.
Web story by Sarah Gabrielli.