By Cindy Venegas
Former Cal State Dominguez Hills student, talk radio host and civil rights lawyer Leo James Terrell made his way back to campus April 13 for a presentation in a communications classroom.
Terrell is working on organizing a speaking tour in different states, where his goal is to point out current problems with law enforcement in certain communities. He is also calling for an independent organization to investigate police shootings.
“I’ve been called racist because I don’t side with the Black Lives Matter group,” Terrell said, “but if I do just because I’m African American, then I lose my credibility as a lawyer. Not all police shootings are bad, and not all shootings are right, but that’s
why I choose in favor of where the evidence points to.”
Terrell said he followed his career path in civil rights because of two reasons. First, he had two great parents who he said gave him the opportunity to decide and placed him in great schools: Gardena High School, CSUDH, Pepperdine University and UCLA. Second, he wanted to help people and have a massive impact.
Terrell’s presentation not only actively engaged students with words, but also with his humorous character and body language. He waved his arms around passionately when discussing freedom of speech and civil rights.
He asked students if they believed there should be a law that prevented sex offenders from using social media. Keep in mind that social media now serves as a multi-purpose platform, providing access to shows, news, celebrity gossip, sports, etc.
While many students believed sex offenders should be restricted, Terrell challenged students that there is more to it than just a simple yes or no and was open to hearing other arguments.
“What if the person was convicted of a sex crime for urinating in public?” asked Terrell. “Should their civil rights be violated?”
Terrell used this as a teaching opportunity to inform students that freedom of speech is not just the right to speak or express, but also the right to receive information.
Issues of “the fake media” were also addressed by Terrell and according to him, “the beauty of being a lawyer is that every word has multiple meanings.”
“When you’re watching the news, you’re not listening to the actual words,” Terrell said. “Every news organization tries to shape your opinion.”
Every person has a different perception of what they see, read or hear, so Terrell emphasized that it is the viewers’ duty to research and ensure they are getting “raw footage” and not something manipulated to change their views because of a hidden agenda.
Students were wide awake and engaged. Even the students who rarely spoke in the class were given the opportunity or singled out by Terrell in an encouraging way to answer and give opinions.
Terrell highlighted the importance of critical thinking, which is something he said a lot of people don’t practice.