Howard University Adds Its Voice to Occupy Movement

Barrington M. Salmon | 11/2/2011, 1:01 p.m.

Occupy Wall Street continues to gain momentum and credibility in the U.S. and around the world even in the face of questions about what the group really wants, how it hopes to achieve that and the derisive, smug and condescending remarks and comments from politicians and media alike. Occupy Wall Street's increasing popularity can be traced to the fact that its message resonates so deeply with the disaffected.

"I'm here because I believe in humanity and human rights," said Danny Montes, 25, who comes to McPherson Square daily to offer his time and support. "Occupy D.C. is about justice, equality, and equity, not just for D.C. and New York residents but also for people all around the world. There's a lot of things that built up to this. I am very concerned about immigrant rights and migration because of my family history. People are getting screwed over not just by the government but by the way the system works."

"On a personal level, I want to make sure my little brother has a future," said Montes, a D.C. resident whose family came from Mexico. "I want an education, a good job as defined as a living wage, a protected job, like a union job. The American dream is defined as having a (good) job and being comfortable, but the reality is that is not the case. People don't have opportunities - there's a lot of work that needs to be done."

Local lawyer Franklyn Burke said when he heard that the march from Howard was taking place, he decided to take his place alongside his fellow demonstrators.

"I'm sure everyone knows someone who's been affected. It is the beginning of a movement. I hope it continues," said Burke, who is a HU alumnus and who has lived in the Washington D.C. area for 46 years. "Citizens united have opened the door. They control our politics quietly. In the last campaign, they even had money from overseas [influencing American politics]."

"This will be a long, hard task. It will be tough to defeat this entrenched set."