Jocelyn Purdie: Justice League’s Newest Hero

Jocelyn Purdie, front row, second from left, at a protest of Queens students after the police shooting of Keith Scott, September 2016. Photo by Samantha Presta.

A​ ​year​ ​ago, ​protester chants​ ​echoed​ ​from​ ​uptown​ ​Charlotte​ ​all​ ​the way​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Queens​ ​University​ ​south​ ​parking​ ​deck. Disbelief​ ​masked​ ​many Queens’ ​students’​ ​faces​ ​as​ ​the​ ​Charlotte​ ​community​ ​became​ ​the​ ​center​ ​of​ ​national attention​ ​after​ ​the Sept. 20, 2016,​ police shooting ​of​ ​Keith​ ​Lamont Scott. Jocelyn​ Purdie was​ ​one of ​them.

“F***​ ​it,” said​ ​Purdie, who, along​ ​with​ ​a​ ​few​ ​other​ ​friends, ​​knew​ ​something needed​ ​to​ ​change. Great​ ​ambition​ ​filled​ ​a​ ​car​ ​ride​ ​back​ ​to​ ​campus​ ​after​ ​Purdie​ ​and​ ​her​ ​friends​ ​heard​ ​Michelle Obama​ ​speak​ ​at Charlotte Convention Center ​last​ ​fall. ​Purdie​ ​realized​ ​that​ ​her​ ​small​ ​conversations​ ​with​ ​her​ ​friends and cheerleading teammates about​ ​politics​ ​could​ ​be​ ​more​ ​effective​ ​if​ ​a​ ​larger​ ​audience​ ​contributed. With​ ​no​ ​intentions​ ​of naming​ ​their​ ​social​ ​justice​ ​discussions, ​ ​she​ ​decided​ ​they​ ​needed​ ​a​ “badass” ​ring​ ​to​ ​them.

Thus, ​ Justice​ ​League​ ​was​ ​born.

It’s Purdie’s senior year here at Queens, but she isn’t stepping foot off campus without her mark left behind. The cheerleader-turned-social justice superhero graduated from Charlotte Country Day School, a predominately white private school, not far from Queens. “It was easy being a black kid in a white space when you have always been in that white space,” Purdie described her experiences growing up in a community that wasn’t exactly diverse. Despite Queens’ more diverse student population, the hardest transition for Jocelyn was making new friends. But she said she still had a “field day” amongst the variety of colors walking the campus.

Faith Anthony, a fellow Queens senior “always has nice things to say” about Jocelyn, knowing her since high school. “She has always had a wonderful energy and a bright spirit.”

In the ninth grade, Purdie’s father passed away. In her free-time she loves to spend time with the ones she loves the most because “after losing someone so close, you realize just how fast life moves and how fast it can all be over.”

Purdie’s Queens cheerleading teammate, Katrina Pitts, has nothing but kind words to share about her. Pitts describes the way Purdie unapologetically stands up for her beliefs: “She’s not afraid to speak on politics or issues facing our world and because of that I have grown as an individual as well. You can never master diversity, but we cannot be comfortable in being complacent.”

For Purdie, times like last year’s protests in uptown Charlotte are reminders of Queens ability to exist as just “a half a block of paradise.”

“It’s easy to sit in the coffee shop and not talk about the protests in Charlotte,” Jocelyn said. “We have to talk anyway.” She recognizes social justice as an obligation. One of Justice League’s panel discussions last year was titled “No Justice, No Peace.” The event’s panel included a Charlotte protester, a police officer, and two pastors.

“What does social justice mean to you?” a journalist asked her.

After a quick pause to think, Jocelyn answered.


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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.