Howard University (Courtesy photo)
Howard University (Courtesy photo)

For Howard University this October is a bittersweet homecoming. A celebrated alum is the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee but amid a pandemic of biblical proportions, racial turmoil is threatening to tear the nation apart.

“Right now, Howard finds itself in a position of influence in a moment of great upheaval for our country. The pandemic and protest movement have culminated to create an inflection point for our society,” said President Wayne A.I. Frederick.

“Even though Homecoming this year became a virtual event, it is still an ideal opportunity to create a marketplace of ideas and instill Howard’s current and future leaders with the knowledge and passion to make a difference.”

And that’s why “From Protest to Policy National Conference” highlighted what would be a week of homecoming celebration on the campus.

Wade J. Henderson, principal of Wade J. Henderson, LLC, and adviser to major corporations and nonprofits on civil and human rights matters, spoke to the racial reckoning due to the deaths of Blacks at the hands of police officers, and political pressures seemingly dismantling the power of the American citizens.

“When you take all of those factors together and add to that the most important election of our time, it is an invitation for disruption that goes to the very heart of what American democracy is all about,” Henderson said.

Panelist Darin Johnson, associate professor at Howard Law School and director of Howard’s Master of Laws Program, urged millennials and Generation Z voters to be wary of foreign election interference, social media operatives (“Blacktivist” page for example) pandering to Black voters and other efforts to undermine and subvert the Black vote through socially divisive content.

“Russia understood that a divided America is less effective at home and aboard. They also understood that a divided America is less able to counter Russia on the global stage,” said Johnson, former special counsel for the Justice Department, who illuminated how foreign in length of these interference campaigns, with voter suppression playing a key piece, micro-targeted to Black American communities.

Johnson was part of former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s team that investigated President Donald Trump. This year’s homecoming celebration was muted but still featured efforts to celebrate at one of the nation’s leading Black schools.

There has been a slew of virtually streamed events on campus, including a digital Yardfest, and gospel concert experience.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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