Quelina sees herself as awesome, brave, caring, determined, exact and energetic, faithful, God-respecting, humble, inquisitive, justified, a killer instinct, loves to laugh, mind challenging, needs balance, open to opportunities, and precious. Her work with Centralian Consulting Services, the East Cleveland City Schools and family keeps her pretty busy. Back at CSU we had great times and conversations. We found out last year that our daughters attended the same school when we saw each other at school function.
Below are her responses.
1. Before the protest were you actively involved in social/political/civil organizations?
Somewhat. In high school, I was active with organizations such as Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) and volunteered at church. I was not active in the NAACP or like organizations though.
2. Why did you decide to participate? Did you stay the course? If not why?
I chose to participate because I felt it was wrong for the University to disrespect an employee that way and disingenuous to dismiss him as students were leaving for summer break. I thank God that I was enrolled that summer; else I could have missed the initial protests.
I stayed the course to an extent, transferring to Central State just before Labor Day because I no longer felt I would be treated fairly at Cleveland State.
3. Was the protest what you expected?
Yes. I learned about organizing and about how insecure many people are when it comes to justice – most talk a good game, but fail to get in the trenches.
4. What was your high and low points during the sit-in?
My high point was each time we successfully executed a plan. Mission Accomplished! My lowest point was being ridiculed in my summer classes by my professors for being involved, and then experiencing the “do nothing” by the University to stop them from their antics. Another low point was allowing persons within the protest to get on my nerves. Did somebody ask for an iron?
5. After the sit-in did you become or continue to be active in social/political/civic organizations? What bout present day?
I continued to voice student concerns while at Central State and was pleased with the understanding respectful disagreements that took place on campus. When I began grad school at Howard a few years later, I participated in a “Stop the Attack” protest but felt that the organizers were more motivated by ego than principle. Today, I still lend a voice to concerns when warranted – through pen and penny.
6. What lessons, if any, did you learn during the sit-in? How has that effected you the past 20 years with personal/career/family etc.
I learned that without struggle there is no progress. When no one takes a stand, everyone falls short. It’s easier to try and be at peace than to regret and let injustice prevail without a challenge. I will say that the protest didn’t help me learn to keep my mouth shut! Often I have found myself being the loud voice of others’ quiet thoughts. It hasn’t made me friends, but for me at least the concern has been voiced. The first step is to acknowledge the issue. One of my former supervisors labeled me “X” and it really tickled me because he really had no clue.
On a funny, yet sad note — I learned that pepperoni was pork! Prior to that, it was just some colored circular thinly sliced red “meat product.”
7. You were a part of little known history. How do you preserve the memory of your participation of the protest in present day?
I hope one day to uncover the pictures and papers from that time. So far, I have yet to come across it. Having recently moved back to Cleveland and reconnected with folks via FaceBook has allowed me to slowly recall snippets from those days and nights and weeks and months in Fenn Tower.