Lamarr Lewis, a 2006 graduate of Wittenberg, was able to come back to his alma mater on Thursday, Feb. 23 to present at the sociology department’s spring colloquium.
Wearing jeans, a black T-shirt, a long necklace with a wooden cut-out of Africa on the end and a boot for an injured achilles on his left foot, he walked into Synod 109 ready to address an audience of 16 about co-dependency.
The colloquiaumwas named “African-American’s Relation to the Democratic Party: A Case of Co-Dependency and the Search For Our True Self,” and was co-sponsored by the Multicultural Program, psychology and political science departments and Faculty Endowment Fund Board.
“This is not a Democratic Party bashing session,” Lewis said. “I would like to create a framework of black life in America, so we understand what black life is and better assess our situation.”
Lewis, former Concerned Black Students President, opened up the presentation by defining co-dependency as addiction, something he sees often as a therapist for people recovering from drug addiction in Atlanta. He then began to show the audience a parallel for that definition: the Democratic Party.
He expressed how African-American’s have largely supported and voted for the Democratic Party ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt became president. Some may forget that the party and the ethnicity haven’t always been in a permanent bond. Lewis reminded the audience that Abraham Lincoln, largely supported by blacks due to the 1865 Emancipation Proclamation, was in fact a Republican.
“We treat co-dependency by identifying and addressing the denial of the dependent relationship,” Lewis said.
With the therapist side of him coming out, Lewis went on to say that care-taking, obsessions, dependency and denial are all emotions and reactions of a co-dependent relationship, as well as reactions he has seen come up in the past election.
Lewis said that African-American’s must better understand who they are and their specific position in America in order to find their “true selves.” He explained how those true selves aren’t necessarily rooted in just Africa.
“The slave ship didn’t just stop at America, it stopped all over,” Lewis said.
He also spoke about five things that hinder upper mobility: residential segregation, income inequality, family size, social capital and school quality. Lewis hoped to spark something inside the students that he spoke to that would cause action to improve those five points.
At the end of his speech, he listed off four things he wants young people to do: raise political awareness, engage in politics locally, join or create an organization to advocate and to engage youth and find ways to develop the community.
“Y’all are young – your achilles works. Go do it,” Lewis said.