Black Stories Matter pt. 2 Charles Glover

Will Peebles

Charles Glover was dressed to the nines. He had just left an SGA meeting and was on the way back to his apartment complex when he was pulled over by a police cruiser. 

The officer told him why he was being stopped. His front headlight was out. The officer asked if there was anything in the car that he should know about. Glover told him there was nothing, and gave the officer his license and registration, and while the officer was headed back to his car, two other police cars pulled up behind him.

The two new officers started shining flashlights into his car. They asked Glover again if there was anything in his car that they needed to know about. Glover told them no for a second time. He was eventually given a warning and released, but the situation made him very uneasy.

“It’s disparaging. Do my white peers go through this? Are they stopped in this manner? Why does it take three officers to pull me over because my front headlight is out? Why do you need all these people with flashlights looking into my car? I’m just leaving an SGA meeting in a suit and tie and these cops are trying to search my car because I have a headlight out,” Glover said.

Glover is a second year graduate student and Student Government Association president. He attended GSU for his undergraduate degree in Psychology, and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. As SGA president, Glover tries to remain neutral about many different issues on the Georgia Southern campus, but that is often easier said than done.

“It’s hard for me being the black male president when I understand the community that I’m from. The minority community, African Americans, they’re really really unhappy with some things here. You’re going to make someone uncomfortable and make someone upset, but when you ignore people, you also make someone uncomfortable. You make someone upset. It’s a lose-lose. Either way you take your lumps,” Glover said.

Glover grew up in Cordele, Georgia, a small town sometimes referred to as “The Gateway to South Georgia.” It was here that he began learning who he was, shaping his identity.

“I tried dressing like a stereotypical thug,with sagging pants and baggy clothes, trying to fit in with the fashions. I never really felt like it was me. I didn’t know in high school that it wasn’t the type of person I wanted to be. My dad heavily discouraged that kind of stuff because he knew how I would be treated in America,” Glover said.

Glover’s search for his own identity continued when he arrived at Georgia Southern in 2010. His SOAR leader was future SGA president Garrett Green. Glover was a mentee of Pathways to Success, a mentoring program run by the Multicultural Student Center. He joined the Student African American Brotherhood. He was involved, but he felt like he was only going through the motions– until the death of Trayvon Martin.

After the death of the Florida teen in 2012, GSU’s Student African American Brotherhood, National Council of Negro Women and NAACP held a forum and a vigil on campus. It was a success. The crowd was filled with mourners and news cameras, and the proceedings of the event ran smoothly. After the event, something unexpected happened.

“Trayvon Martin’s cousin was here. She went to GSU, and none of us knew it. She came up after the vigil, crying, saying, ‘Thank you so much, because we didn’t think anybody cared,’” Glover said, “To make an impact in somebody’s life like that, that’s when it actually got real for me. I saw that we could make an impact. Even if no one came but her, that was all I needed.”

Charles got involved in SGA later that year. He began taking things more seriously. The second semester of his junior year, he ran for vice president of auxiliary affairs on Garrett Green’s ticket. Glover won the title, and kept the position for the next 2 years, through his senior year and his first year of graduate school. He ran for president in April of 2015, and won the position.

As president, Glover aims to make all students feel comfortable at GSU while remaining as neutral as possible. This can be a difficult balancing act, especially when it comes to polarizing social issues.

“There are social things that I want to change on Georgia Southern’s campus. I’d like more intermingling and empathy for others that are different from you. The us-versus-them mentality is going to be our downfall,” Glover said.

Glover’s predecessors taught him that approaching social issues would bring up mixed feelings on campus, but Glover says that bringing up those issues is one of the next steps SGA must take to find solutions.

“People are openly discriminated against. You can find things that are systematically in place, within Georgia Southern, within Statesboro itself. It’s hard to fight that at times. It’s so ingrained, and you always get the answer: ‘This is the way things have always been done.’ or ‘This is the way things are, I don’t see much of a problem. What data and what facts do you have?’” Glover said.

The issues can’t be solved until the problems are clearly identified. Glover and the SGA are currently working on a survey to be distributed at GSU that will attempt to highlight the issues that students believe are the most important. The information gathered by the survey will help SGA set goals for the coming year.

“Sometimes it’s hard quantifying what exactly needs to be done. These are your feelings, I understand that. I feel it too, but what can we put into effect that will be beneficial? It’s hard, because even on a national level we haven’t figured that out yet,” Glover said.

Glover would like to move SGA to a place where the organization is able to make all students on campus feel at home, but he knows that doing this in a non divisive way will be a challenge.

“It’s not just a white-black campus, it’s a white, black, asian, hispanic, christian, muslim, LBGTQ campus. It encompasses everyone, and everyone should be able to feel at home here. We always say it’s ‘Our House,’ but some people feel like they’re standing outside of the house,” Glover said,

“I’d like to see SGA approach these things. If SGA is here to make your life better as a student, and you say you don’t feel like you’re welcome here on your own campus, then that’s a problem. That’s a huge problem for us, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t say something.”