Howard Students Protest After Black Colleges Meet With Trump
March 4, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
“Welcome to the Trump plantation. Overseer: Wayne A. I. Frederick.
Wayne Frederick doesn’t care about black people.
Make Howard black again.”
This graffiti recently appeared at Howard University in Washington, DC. Dr. Wayne Frederick is the president of Howard, one of this country’s most respected Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Howard students protest against the university president, March 2. (Video: Twitter/@HUResist)
Howard students are protesting what they see as the university’s collaborating with and sucking up to Trump. On February 27, Frederick and more than 60 other HCBU leaders met with top Trump officials, including Betsy DeVos, the education secretary. An official photograph released to the press showed the HCBU officials shamefully smiling and chatting with Trump around his desk. (“Campus Backlash After Leaders of Black Colleges Meet With Trump,” New York Times, March 4, 2017)
This brings to mind what Malcolm X once said: “The first thing the (white racist) does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right.”
Llewellyn Robinson, a Howard sophomore, said about Frederick and other HCBU officials’ friendly get-together with Trump, “Is it a photo op, is it an opportunity for Trump to put himself next to black people and smile? Is that the situation we’re dealing with? Or is it truly a seat at the table?”
Students also denounced comments by Betsy DeVos, after the meeting with the HCBU officials that added insult to injury. She declared that HCBUs “are real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” This comes from the head of Trump’s education department who aims to gut public schools and funnel students, in the name of “choice,” into private schools that train them as Christian fundamentalist robots.
As Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party pointed out in a piece on revcom.us: “The HBCUs were created out of the fight to end the denial of any educational opportunities to Black people. First under the slave system, which made it a crime to teach Black people to read! And then under the separate and unequal policies of Jim Crow segregation, Black students were barred from attending whites-only schools from elementary school thru college. Part of keeping Black people in the U.S. subjugated has been keeping them shrouded in ignorance. And part of the struggle against that subjugation has been fighting to break out of that enforced ignorance. It was in the face of this complete denial of educational opportunities that HBCUs grew and developed.” (“Somebody Needs to Tell Betsy DeVos: The Struggle Against Denying Black People Education Wasn’t a Fight for School Choice”)
On Thursday, March 2, student protesters disrupted a convocation celebrating Howard University’s 150th anniversary where Frederick was speaking. A student announced, “The concerned students of HU Resist are here today to deliver a message. President Wayne Frederick, someone might have convinced you that money is more important than people. We are asking you in this moment to choose us—to take a stand for us and to do right by us.” The protest was organized by “Concerned Students, 1867,” whose demands include that Howard become a sanctuary campus; that Trump be banned from the campus; that funding from the Trump administration be rejected; and that resources be increased to the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersex, Asexual), Muslim, immigrant and other underrepresented groups on campus.
With raised fists, the students held up signs that declared “Trump is Not Welcome @ Howard” and “Don’t Take Trump Hu$h Money.” When security forced them to leave the auditorium, they marched out defiantly chanting.
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