“Silence is Complicity”: John Quiñones Keynote at the Mitchell Center

By: Stephanie Huynh | Contributor

Photo Credit: South Alabama website

On Friday, Oct. 1, ABC News correspondent and host of “What Would You Do?” John Quiñones spoke at the Mitchell Center for Alumni Weekend. Through stories of his challenging childhood and chasing opportunities as a young journalist, he shared his perspective of overcoming adversity as part of a minority community.

Born into poverty in the western part of San Antonio, Texas, Quiñones wasn’t exposed to many fluent English speakers at a young age. To fulfill his dream of being a reporter, he sought various reporting gigs and landed a job as a radio personality. After minimizing his accent and becoming a first-generation college graduate, he proceeded to find work on the larger networks that we see him on today.

Along the way, he said, people exhibited prejudices that needed to be uncovered and addressed. Thus, “What Would You Do?” was born.

“I wanted to hold up a mirror to American society,” said Quiñones. “How do you unlock the power and the light that exists within each one of us so that we’re all better equipped to stand up and say, ‘You know what – that’s wrong’ or ‘How can I help?’”

The ethical dilemmas that exist in the United States have caused a severe division that poses the constant question of whether or not to step up and speak out for one’s beliefs. Quiñones urged the students, faculty, and alumni in attendance to consider taking an active role in combating injustice, repeating “What would you do?” during his presentation.

“Silence is complicity,” Quiñones said. “We have to raise our voices, and, I think in today’s America, louder than ever because these are tough times in this country. We have never seen our nation act as divided as it’s been over the last few years, and I grew up during the Civil Rights movement!”

Though Quiñones is not an alumnus of South, his stories were relevant to the diverse demographic on South’s campus. Alumni, along with current students and faculty, had no issue agreeing with him.

“It strikes me that we’re all busy building all these walls and fences along the border when, in my humble opinion, we should also be building bridges between us and those other nations to better understand the beautiful mosaic of our common humanity,” said Quiñones.

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