NBC 6's Sheli Muñiz spoke to Landon Coles, a junior at the University of Miami, about the changes that he and his peers are demanding of their school amid the Black Lives Matter movement and the national reaction to George Floyd's police killing. Coles is the president of United Black Students at UM, a group that's petitioning their school's administration to make some changes.
The following interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
SHELI: You've said before that we are currently facing two pandemics that disproportionately black people. Could you elaborate on that?
Coles: The two pandemics we're facing are COVID-19, and racism. Thank you so much for allowing me to highlight these issues today; we really are in a moment where we have to meet things by speaking our truths and seeking justice for ourselves, and that's exactly what we're trying to do on UM's campus.
SHELI: What are some of the demands you're making of your administration?
COLES: We're asking them to put their money where their mouth is. Invest in pre-existing infrastructure, like our Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and our LGBTQ+ center. Create opportunities for new infrastructure to be created, a Racial Justice Advisor with a cabinet, a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Center. Invest in our student organizations, so they can create programming for students who look like me.
SHELI: Talk to me about the legacy you want to leave on campus, considering you're going to be done in two years.
LANDON: For me, regardless of whatever environment I'm in, I know I want to create opportunities for the students who come after me. Some people see it as an extracurricular activity, but I see it as something that creates a tangible impact on the lives of students who are not as fortunate, not as blessed as me. One of the demands we made was for the school to reach out to communities like Overtown, and South Miami, and invest in them, so that we can have more Black students and students of color attending the University and reaping the same resources I've been fortunate enough to have.
SHELI: What's next, after the University of Miami? What's your career of choice?
LANDON: What's next for me? I'm going to law school. I am going to run for DA and become a prosecutor, and I am going to work within our criminal justice system. From there, I will be running for Governor of Florida and hopefully, from there one day, the White House. So, my name will be on that ballot one day, and I'll need everyone's vote.