EDITORIAL: Howard Students Succeed Through Civil Rights Movement Strategy

Student demonstrators occupy Howard University's administration building during a sit-in to protest a financial aid scandal at the school. (Jazmin Goodwin/Howard University News Service)
Student demonstrators occupy Howard University's administration building during a sit-in to protest a financial aid scandal at the school. (Jazmin Goodwin/Howard University News Service)

Watching students from Howard employ a strategy proven to be successful during the civil rights movement illustrated several positive things including, not definitely not limited to, the importance of Blacks knowing our history.

The students were angry, they said, after learning that money for student aid had been funneled into the accounts and hands of unscrupulous school administrators. They were frustrated because these dollars were and are essential to their being able to continue and complete their matriculation at the historically Black university. And they wanted to know why the truth had been withheld from them for so long.

And so, they took a page out of the annals of the modern-day civil rights movement, taking over the university’s administration building, holding a sit-in for over a week, carefully articulating their demands and even conferring with local attorneys in order to make sure they weren’t straying too far afield from rights that Blacks finally received through blood, sweat and tears.

What’s most impressive is they were successful in their efforts.

We couldn’t help but smile — even being tempted to utter a more contemporary form of urban vernacular by shouting, “you go, young folks!”

Certainly, Howard University’s president, trustees and other top officials have significant work to do — particularly, but not limited to, regaining the trust of their students and their families.

But for the moment, a semblance of normality has been restored on the Howard University campus. And that’s something that happened, not because of the rhetorical musings of old folks but through the courageous actions of determined Black youth who showed that they care about their futures.

Were Dr. King still alive, he would undoubtedly find a lot has happened since thousands joined him for the historic March on Washington that may evoke feelings of frustration, disappointment — even rage in some cases. But he would be pleased, too.

Why? Because Black youth, at least those who have chosen to continue their educational pursuits at schools like Howard, historically founded in order to provide greater and more equitable opportunities for youth of color, have learned their history well. And they’re making the best of that history while recasting and reshaping it for use in tackling the challenges they now face in this brave new world.

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