March 16, 2011

'Can I Live' rally, celebration set for March 21

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The inaugural "Can I Live" rally and celebration is coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale on March 21.

The event is open to students, faculty, staff and members of the community. It kicks off with a unity march at 6:30 p.m. beginning at Grinnell Hall and ending at the Student Center, where the rally takes place in the auditorium. Leading the event are the Speaking and Teaching Registered Student Organization and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Many of the unity march participants will wear T-shirts and carry signs with messages celebrating life.

The rally will feature a diverse group of speakers, each with a message addressing topics of relevance including surviving rape, bullying, gang violence and domestic violence. Others will focus on freedom, growth, body image and living a full life while wheelchair bound.

The lecture panel includes:

• Bryant Payne, 26, a graduate student in speech communication from the south side of Chicago. He will recite some of his poetry, including a poem focusing on the relationship he has with his mother and his father’s influence on him as well as one about violence, written after the murder of Derrion Albert.

• Corey Gowin, 28, an early childhood education major at John A. Logan College from Carbondale/Anna, who will tell of life as he lives it as someone with cerebral palsy, living in a wheelchair. His story is one of making the best of life and who he is and keeping a positive attitude.

• Stefani Pittman, 22, a senior English major with a literature concentration and minor in Africana studies from East St. Louis. She will discuss how body image affects men and women and she’ll touch on weight problems, image presentation and the impact body image has had on her life.

• Jasmine Harvey, 18, a freshman in nursing from Atlanta. She’ll share experiences regarding rape within her family and discuss how people tend to be judgmental.

• Derrick Williams, violence prevention coordinator at the SIUC Student Health Center Wellness Center and adviser for the Progressive Masculinity Mentors RSO. Williams earned his doctorate in speech communications at SIUC and will discuss mentoring and its importance, non-violence and social justice, and important steps people can take on their journey to adulthood.

• Perzia Mitchell, a freshman fashion design and merchandising major from Chicago, will read poetry.

Organizers also anticipate a speaker from the Women’s Center in Carbondale. The rally is free but participants can donate to various charitable causes.

For more information about the Can I Live rally, contact Byron Lee Madison Jr., vice president of the Speaking and Teaching RSO at or Ryan Reed of Kappa Alpha Psi at