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Darrius Knight: Closing the Communications Gap Between America’s Adults & Youths; and Fighting for Justice, from Prison Reform To Covid-19 Vaccines

Editor’s Note: The Early Learning Nation Studio recently attended the 2022 National League of Cities’ City Congressional Conference where we spoke with early learning researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. The full collection of video conversations can be found here.

As the City of Dublin (GA) Youth Council Mayor and a NLC Youth Leader, Darrius Knight is working to help adults and youths better understand each other. The key is communication. He also advocates for prison reform.


Transcript:

Chris Riback:                 Darrius. Thanks so much for joining us in the studio. It’s great to see you.

Darrius Knight:              Thank you for having me. It’s great to see you, too.

Chris Riback:                 What year are you in school and what are your interests?

Darrius Knight:              I’m in the 11th grade right now and my interests are in law.

Chris Riback:                 Law.

Darrius Knight:              Law and government. Yes, sir.

Chris Riback:                 Law and government. What do you want to change with the law? What impact do you want to make in government?

Darrius Knight:              I definitely say one thing I want to change is our nation’s criminal justice system. I see quite a few flaws with it, especially when you look at our prison system. Our prison system, it’s not the best in the world and it doesn’t do what I believe it needs to be doing.

Chris Riback:                 We’re at a conference that is focused on education in part. Do you see the ways in which education, youth education connects with some of the questions that you raise around our criminal justice system?

Darrius Knight:              Absolutely.

Chris Riback:                 What do you see?

Darrius Knight:              We often ask ourselves, how can we as youth, prepare ourselves for the future, prepare ourselves and also prepare our current leaders for the issues that we will have to face in the future. That, in my opinion, is an issue that we will have to face in the future, our prison system. Taking on how we will deal with issues in the future, that is something that will greatly give.

Chris Riback:                 You serve on a few different councils and groups. You’re pretty involved in a lot of different stuff, aren’t you?

Darrius Knight:              Yes, sir.

Chris Riback:                 In these councils and groups, there are adults that you work with.

Darrius Knight:              There are.

Chris Riback:                 What do they not know? What do they not know about what the youth of America is thinking and doing?

Darrius Knight:              I would say they don’t really understand exactly what our goal is. They struggle to see exactly what we’re trying to lay the foundation as, as to what they want the foundation to be. It’s completely different and I think they don’t see that, and that’s where issues come into play. When youth want to do one thing, the adults want to do one thing and it’s lack of communication.

Chris Riback:                 How do you close that gap? How do you communicate or try to communicate in a way to bring, I first want to start with the adults? I’m going to ask you about your peers, about other kids as well, but first, how do you communicate to bring adults along to your vision?

Darrius Knight:              Often it’s usually through just strong wording, just emphasizing exactly what it is that we want. I’ll talk to my peers, because I am the leader on my youth council, so I gather that information, take it to the adults, say this is what we want. This is what they want. How can we bring that in between to what you want, we want? Make it merge.

Chris Riback:                 What about those peers? The other kids, the other youths who are on the council, how do you communicate with them? How do you get ideas coordinated so that you can bring them forward?

Darrius Knight:              I act a very certain way when I’m very lively and trying to get things done, but when I’m serious, they get that. They understand, okay, this is the time he wants to actually get down on to get the business. Again, strong wording. I emphasize my voice a lot.

Chris Riback:                 Good for you. In reading about you, learning about you, I came across that you also are very passionate about the COVID 19 vaccine and the importance of bringing along the black community, the African American community…

Darrius Knight:              Yes, sir.

Chris Riback:                 …to understanding. What motivated you on that and what are you trying to do to help people understand what you want them to understand?

Darrius Knight:              I would definitely say my motivation is just hearing at school, how people are saying, “I’m not getting the vaccine because of this. I’m not getting the vaccine because of that.”

Chris Riback:                 Kids or adults?

Darrius Knight:              Kids, and some adults as well, but mostly my peers are saying they’re not getting the vaccine and I wanted to understand why they weren’t getting the vaccine, so that’s what I did. I got the information as to why they weren’t getting the vaccine, had a conversation with other youth, along with NLC’s CEO, Clarence Anthony, as to how to break these stigmas and what is the truth?

Chris Riback:                 Yes. You had a conversation, a video conversation with the CEO of NLC, didn’t you?

Darrius Knight:              Yes, sir.

Chris Riback:                 Yes, on the topic. Darrius, what’s next for you?

Darrius Knight:              What is next for me? That is still uncertain right now.

Chris Riback:                 I don’t mean today or tomorrow. We can go out a few years.

Darrius Knight:              I do see myself in the future becoming a defense attorney. That is the short term goal. My long term goal is, shooting for the stars, is to end up as a United States Supreme Court Justice.

Chris Riback:                 That would be outstanding. You’re sitting not too far from there right now.

Darrius Knight:              Yes.

Chris Riback:                 Maybe we go walk over there afterwards. Let them know that you’ll be coming in…

Darrius Knight:              Yes, sir.

Chris Riback:                 …30 years.

Darrius Knight:              Yes, that would probably be nice.

Chris Riback:                 Okay. We’ll let them know. I think you’ll get there.

Darrius Knight:              Yes, sir. I hope so.

Chris Riback:                 I look forward to it. Darrius, thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and for coming to the studio to visit us.

Darrius Knight:              Yes, sir.

 

 

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