Black Power Protest and Historically Black Colleges

The purpose of this blog is not to debate or address the absurdity of our nations legal system, it is not to question whether Troy Davis was innocent or that his innocence could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  The thing that stuck out to me most about yesterdays events was the display of power and unity African Americans (and Americans in general) can exhibit IF they so choose.

Within a days notice (for those who had not been closely following the case for the last decade) hundreds of students, especially from local Black colleges gathered together to demonstrate on behalf of the injustice they saw taking place.  Twitter, facebook and other media outlets were completely entrenched with outcries of injustice and demands for action.  In Georgia, hundreds of students drove down on a moments notice, while students in D. C. dropped everything to march down to the White House and the Supreme Court.

Seeing this mass mobilization I felt pride that we were organizing for a specific cause, but a part of me could not help but think about how much we could change implement if only we took to the streets like that on a consistent and aggressive basis.  Then the historian in me thought back to how difficult it was for our ancestors to have their voices heard, there was no twitter or facebook, still they got out and made a difference.  Think about it, granted, it was an extreme situation, the protests on yesterday forced a delay and a reconsideration to be heard in our nations highest court, the Supreme Court.  Imagine if we got out and protested for issues like ending poverty, discrimination, to create jobs, etc…

For over a century, HBCUs have been on the forefront of protests movements in the United States.  Whether it was students at Hampton University in the 1920s demanding Black faculty and administrators, demanding a modern liberal curriculum, or demanding to have integrated seating at Ogden hall, they made their voices heard.  Whether it was four freshman from North Carolina A & T who walked into a Greensboro diner and sat-in at the whites-only lunch counter, their actions helped spark a Civil Rights revolution.  Yesterday, we saw this same power be exhibited by Howard University students, by students from Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta and from all over the country.

Let us remember the words spoken by H. Rap Brown, the then chairman from one of the major student ran civil rights organization (Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee) when he said, “One thing that the Black College student can do, at this time, is to begin to legitimize his brothers actions, begin to articulate his position, because the college student has the skills that the [average Black American] doesn’t have.”  So with that, I challenge anyone reading this blog to build upon the yesterday’s momentum.  Do not be complacent, do not become a “trendy protestor” our institutions, our youngsters and our future can not afford it.


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