That Cop Going Viral For Giving a Kid Pushups Instead of Jail Time? An HBCU Grad.

This is how HBCUs help in defining just how much black lives matter.

This is how HBCUs help in defining just how much black lives matter.

Any police officer, black or white could have done the same thing. A kid is smoking weed in a movie theater, and rather than changing his life by cuffing him, stuffing him into the back of a car and putting him in jail with a charge, the officer saves his life with pushups.

That’s what Langston University alumnus Eric Ball did. And it’s the same things hundreds of thousands of cops all over the country do, regardless of where, or if, they attended college.

But Ball is an HBCU grad, and his actions are going viral for all of the right reasons. It’s the kind of attention HBCUs should get more of; for their acute ability to positively change lives when those lives haven’t yet realized the power of potential.

It isn’t just in criminal justice programming, although HBCUs are national innovators in producing cops who are more likely deescalate violent encounters than to provoke or participate in them. Just ask Coppin State University Chief of Police Leonard Hamm, who led the campus’ control efforts following the Baltimore uprising.

Or former Baltimore City Schools Police Chief Marshall Goodwin, a Coppin State alumnus who 11 years ago developed an annual ‘Shop with a Cop’ program to provide Christmas gifts and meals to city school children in need.

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Or the Howard County Minority Police Officers Association, which with 48 members advocates for fairness and equity in community relations and minority hiring practices within the department. It’s current vice-president; Terrence Benn, a Howard University graduate.

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Or Edward Waters College President Nat Glover, who crafted a historic career in law enforcement before becoming president of his alma mater, and establishing the school as an academic and outreach hub for police-community relationship building.

These initiatives being developed to benefit black people and black communities are not coincidence; they are a part of the cultural development that takes place at HBCUs, and extends beyond industry and racial identity.

And when it happens, chances are that a black person was responsible for the idea becoming reality. We never hear about their individual struggle or how much convincing and cajoling it took to make racial tolerance an area of professional emphasis, but we’re always better off because of their work.

Work that frequently should be credited as the toil of an HBCU alumnus or student, or sometimes, HBCUs themselves.

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Officer Ball has been profiled by CNN and the Associated Press in the days following his high profile encounter with kid outside of an Arlington movie theater. Not one of them has, or likely will mention that he’s one of ours. But it is important for us to make that distinction, and to show our communities that he, they, and so many others are working hard to make sure that people see just how much black lives matter.

Because you never know; where there’s one of us in front of the camera for doing well, there may just be a couple of others you don’t see working behind the scenes. Like VaNessa Harrison and Kyrus Branch of the Arlington Police Department; both Grambling State graduates.