There’s an undeniable sense of pride thousands of students and alumnae across the U.S. and around the world have for their beloved Howard University. They represent more than 100,000 Black recipients of degrees in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, engineering, nursing, architecture, religion, law, music, social work and education bestowed by the university over the past 194 years.
The university’s list of distinguished students and alumni is long, very long, and includes such names as author Toni Morrison, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, actor Anthony Anderson and the late Chadwick Boseman.
The university’s greatest pride is not only for the president of the university, Dr. Wayne K. Frederick, an alum who earned two degrees from HU, but also for the nation’s first woman and person of color, Vice President Kamala Harris, who is also an undeniably proud Bison who frequently sings praises about her alma mater.
Yet, with such a distinguished reputation and immense Bison pride, the level of discontent has remained high in recent years among students, faculty and alumni. It reached another boiling point with the most recent student protest that will be added to the list of student and faculty protests over the past few years. Just three years ago, HU Resist, a nine-day student boycott, addressed the university campus assault policy, food insecurity among students and the neighboring community and the policy allowing for armed campus police, to name a few.
This week, #Blackburn Takeover, a 33-day protest, ended when issues concerning poor and unhealthy living conditions, “heightened transparency of Howard’s administration [and] heightened scrutiny of the administration” were resolved.
HBCUs are historically underfunded and the issues students confront today are not new. But that doesn’t mean things can’t change. Conditions can be improved and constructive dialogue can lead to positive outcomes.
We salute the students for their leadership, sacrifice and determination. Their efforts contribute significantly to HU’s greatness. We also encourage President Frederick to keep the lines of communications open, to allow student and faculty voices to be heard and addressed at all levels and to give due consideration to those for whom he works.