MUHAMMAD: Howard Students Show Long-Awaited ‘Change’ is Coming

Howard University students occupy the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administrative Building on the university's northwest D.C. campus, demanding the immediate resignation of President Wayne A.I. Frederick. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)
Howard University students occupy the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administrative Building on the university's northwest D.C. campus, demanding the immediate resignation of President Wayne A.I. Frederick. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

Since I was a teenager, I’ve listened to and yearned for the expression of those soulful songs “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “People Get Ready.” And now, I can see that promised revolution on the horizon.

In the past few months we saw the #MeToo women’s movement form and grow national wings. Then the high school students from Parkland, Florida, did something extraordinary. They organized a vibrant national/worldwide movement in just two weeks, without being overtly co-opted by the “adults” (White men).

At the same time, teachers in two of the poorest states, Oklahoma and Kentucky, have “cast down their buckets” and are struggling with the old fogies in political power in their states to win improvements for their students in the classrooms. Unified. En masse.

Now comes the Howard University student uprising, and this new revolution has come full circle, back to the Black Lives Matter, root of the struggle. What’s different now is that the participants, the stakeholders have a special leverage, if they will utilize it, and their youth portends victory, as they grow into the age of power and assertion, and their opponents are aging out of the game.

Black people are the key to any successful uprising in this country. When White folks wake up and realize that while their government is digging itself into a financial ditch from which escape is all but impossible as it tries to over-equip the military with every killing device imaginable, at the same time it is underfunding education, no one has stopped to think: “who will operate these fancy killing machines?” Poor White folks may come to realize they have more in common with suffering Black folks than they have with wealthy and corrupt members of their own race, who are in now in charge of everything, and who are driving this country toward the abyss.

The idea that opioid-addicted, high-school-graduates with sixth- and seventh-grade reading comprehension that are coming out of this country’s schools today can operate the high-tech gadgets, is like watching the employees in dirty uniforms who can’t even count change at a fast-food franchise, operating a $75,000 french-fry machine. Americans are losing the global war of intelligence.

Not at Howard University, however, where a cadre of 350 students — sometimes chanting “Umgowah-Black Power” and other slogans — continued their sixth day occupying the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administration Building at Howard University as I composed this. They are in solidarity, and they’ve won a guarantee of immunity from the university, so long as their protest remains peaceful. They’re smart.

The protest began March 29, after an anonymous blog post revealed that as much as $1 million had been pilfered from financial aid funds by six workers whose employment also entitled them to free tuition. They were “double-dipping,” while many deserving students were in want. The six were fired, university President Wayne I. Frederick revealed, but that was a full six months after the school’s investigation of the nine years of skullduggery uncovered the wrongdoing.

“We have tons of students here. We have had solidarity from students from all over the country,” Alexis McKenney, one of the leaders of #HUResist, told me on campus. “We have solidarity from students from American University who have come on campus to support us. We have had different student groups, different fraternities, sororities, student organizations, alumni who have come out to help us.”

That’s solidarity.

“So, if someone is taking our money — money that is meant for our financial aid — because I am on scholarship, most students are on scholarship; most students are receiving some financial aid,” Howard freshman Imani Bryant told me. “And if someone is taking the money that is meant for students, that is not OK, especially since some students have to leave every year because they don’t have the money to pay for Howard.”

That’s the spirit, and just like the young folks from Parkland, and the women, and the others who are challenging — without fear of reprisal — the corrupt establishment and crooked politicians, their uprisings signal that the time of the evildoers is at hand.

There have been uprisings at Howard before — in 1968 and again in 1989 — but in the current atmosphere of general discontent with worthless politicians and the “mis-leadership class” of Black officials, everywhere in this country. I think the future is secure, and the Howard University uprising is evidence of it.

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About Askia Muhammad 108 Articles
WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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