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Briana Blackwell

by Karissa Rodgers Jul 06, 2017
Briana  Blackwell

2017/18 Honors Thesis Fellow

Paterno Fellow


Briana Blackwell, a native of Pittsburgh, PA, is a rising senior triple majoring in Political Science, African American Studies, and Philosophy. Briana is a Schreyer Honor Scholar, a Paterno Fellow, and student leader on campus with a passion for racial justice advocacy and social justice. She has served as the President and Founder of the mentoring aspect of the Youth Empowerment Program, served as Vice President of the NAACP on campus, and the Secretary and PR chair of Sovereign Magazine. She has also served on the Multicultural Resource Center Leadership Council, and is a member of the Penn State chapters of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Phi Eta Sigma and Pi Sigma Alpha National Honor Society. In her spare time, Briana also serves the community as a member of the Centre County Action Network and the Central PA chapter of SURJ. Briana plans to turn her passion for racial justice into a legal career, and has experience as a Pennsylvania Democratic Party Organizing Fellow, a writing tutor and teaching assistant for the Comprehensive Studies Program, and an intern at Northeastern University School of Law in the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project.

Briana’s honors thesis project will consist of an in-depth analysis of Pennsylvania House Bill 27, which is “an Act amending Title 44 (Law and Justice) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, adding provisions for law enforcement activities by providing for release of law enforcement officer information when firearm discharged or use of force”. The focus for this project is to expose the relationship between laws that protect police officers and how the same bill is capable of negatively and disproportionately affecting African Americans. The thesis will explore the impact of this bill during our current social and political climate, the racial implications of such a law and its relationship to the Black Lives Matter movement, and to gain an understanding of Pennsylvania’s role and position in issues concerning police brutality and how these racial incidents are framed by the media. Briana will be conducting original research by gathering archives and directly interviewing with those who support and oppose HB27, as well as with several individuals in the Pennsylvania police force.