As the words of a civil rights lawyer echo through Pruis Hall, a white mother nods in agreement as she listens, seated next to her 14-year-old African-American son who's heard too many relatable stories.
"I had to think back on what my father told me about how to behave during a traffic stop, and the advice he gave me was inherently different than what I give my sons," said Kimberly Lee, a Ball State alumna and mother of three African-American sons and an African-American daughter.
"The significance of me as their white mother only applies when I'm standing within their immediate presence," Lee said. "The moment they leave me, they go forth into the world and the American world sees them as black males. Unfortunately, the rules are different for them."
When Lee heard Jasmine Rand, founding attorney of RAND LAW, L.L.C in Miami, speak about multiple cases she's worked on, Lee had to ask Rand how she keeps hope when her cases continually see the same outcome — not guilty.
"Keep telling them the truth and keep loving them. You have to forgive yourself for the hopeless moments and keep going,” Rand said. "Courage is having the ability to recognize your fear and move past it."
To many like Lee and Rand cases such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice display a tragedy in the U.S. that they hope end.
Rand joined the Ball State community Tuesday as the Martin Luther King, Jr. speaker to discuss her experiences representing the families of African-American men who were fatally killed.
Rand began by discussing one of her most impactful moments as a law professor.
"How many of you are familiar with the phrase 'I Am Trayvon Martin,'" she asked the audience.
As hands rose, Rand asked how many knew the phrase originated in a classroom of college students who did not believe a case like Martin’s existed.
Rand’s students coined a phrase that spanned the globe. More importantly, Rand said, they saw a piece of themselves in Martin.
Although Rand was able to prove her case to her students, she didn't hear the words "not guilty" from the jury.
To this day, Rand said she still has trouble rationalizing the idea that one man can kill another and walk free of charges. She said she carried this idea into her recent case involving Andre Derek Smith whose killer currently roams the streets of Florida as a free man.
"It doesn’t matter how well our legislators write these statutes," Rand said. "If the hearts and the minds applying the law do not feel within themselves love, then those words, those statutes, will become meaningless in action."
Rand said that idea is the foundation of life and encouraged the audience to go forward with love in their hearts. She also told the audience to close their eyes and picture a world they want to see and then walk toward that vision until it becomes a reality.
"Jasmine Rand used such simple language when she says 'be love,' but there is so much work that actually goes into that," said junior creative writing major, Kayls Keesling. "She reminded me that there are actions that I can take by myself and that there are always ways for our campus to improve. I think she is one speaker that is headed in the right direction to help make Ball State a braver campus."