Zianna Oliphant became the face of the September 2016 Charlotte City Council meeting as she gave a compassionate, tearful account of the hurt she felt following the officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Her speech had a clear and immediate impact on Shavon who stepped up to the podium shortly after to address city council.
“Tonight when she goes home, that speech that she just gave isn’t going to stop playing in her head, and it shouldn’t stop playing in yours,” said Shavon. “We need to work together; that means transparency, honesty and a concerted, ongoing effort to not just please the cameras, but to make a real difference.”
In the same speech, Shavon went on to say that she and the children in here community didn’t feel safe. When asked if she’s felt safer today, she hesitates, but eventually says she feels like she’s in the same place. With her there’s always a feeling that a routine encounter with law enforcement could lead to a misunderstanding. To ensure transparency after such events, Shavon suggests the community involvement in the review process can help build trust in the long run.
“At my job after a project, we have a lessons learned conversation,” she says. “At the end of the project, we don’t all clap our hands, pat our backs and say we did everything right. I know these conversations happen [within CMPD], but can we be included?”
For Shavon, bringing about positive change requires a hands-on approach, where we are all involved in developing solutions and working through challenges, whether they be related to police-community relations or addressing economic disparity. She’s taken on this personal approach by becoming a consistent presence in the lives of the less fortunate. She’s committed to making a difference in Charlotte, by giving her time and resources to those who need it most, and challenges Charlotte’s institutions to take on the same pledge.
“I grew up barely having enough, and I know the difference that it makes to have a book bag for school. I try to find ways to put myself in direct contact with the people that need help. I’m committed and I hope you all are too.”