As Howard University students, alumni and community members prepared to join in the reunion festivities in late October, several students entered their second week of nonviolent resistance in what has been called the Take of Blackburn Control.
For much of the past weekend, protesters boycotted HU’s homecoming, choosing instead to stage unauthorized campus activities that not only raised awareness for their cause, but also garnered support from political and industrial titans.
University officials attempted to stop what has come to be known as “Blackburn Homecoming” by turning on lawn sprinklers outside the Blackburn University Center. Protesters also alleged that university officials threatened to take disciplinary action against black Greek literary organizations performing in an unauthorized step show.
However, efforts to blunt the protest did not deter some, such as a freshman who asked to be called Alexis to attend Blackburn Homecoming.
âA lot of students don’t realize that it’s a struggle for thousands of students to breathe healthy air in their rooms and not have rats,â Alexis said.
Alexis spent much of the weekend in front of Blackburn with her friends grooving to the sound of contemporary hip-hop, R&B and screaming go-go from a jumbo speaker, even as the HU marching band performed. several meters away.
Although in internal conflict over not having the experience of returning home conventionally, Alexis continued to stand in solidarity with the Live Movement, HU Young Democratic Socialists of America and other groups pushing for better. conditions on campus.
âHoward was my dream college since high school. If I had known what was going on here, I would have changed my mind, âshe said.
âI tried to complain about Howard to people and they told me not to say anything. How can they expect me to do this when it gets worse?
When HU’s reunion festivities ended on Sunday, October 24, Blackburn Takeover entered its day 12.
At the time, several undergraduate and graduate student protesters were stationed in Blackburn and dozens of tents strewn across the yard near the front of the building. A clash between students and police has circulated on Instagram and other social media platforms, which has only intensified calls for HU administrators to respond to student requests.
In recent weeks, student-led protests for safe housing, the reinstatement of affiliate board positions and a public meeting with HU President Dr Wayne AI Frederick have attracted many attention nationally.
Inspiring similar protests in Atlanta, where students at Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, Spelman and Morris Brown universities echoed Howard’s student complaint, the Blackburn takeover also forced trap music artist Gucci Mane to cancel plans to perform at HU’s comeback concert.
The Blackburn takeover also caught the attention of the Wale District hip-hop juggernaut who brought in food to protest the Blackburn students. The ongoing protest has found support from the DuPont Brass Band performing outside Blackburn. Meanwhile, the students put on a step show and block party in the spirit of Blackburn Homecoming.
A HU graduate student said she wants to split her time between studying and attending Blackburn Homecoming. However, she expressed concern that black-owned businesses affiliated with HU would be negatively affected by the boycott.
âThe only thing I paid for was the homecoming game, but I will be supporting baby Bison,â said the HU School of Social Work student who asked to be called Essence.
âI didn’t know there were so many people going through problems. I’m trying to figure out how to involve our colleagues more within the limits of their mental capacities, âshe said.
Over the HU reunion weekend, officials renamed Block 2400 on NW 4th Street in honor of Lucy Diggs Slowe, a HU alum who, during an illustrious career in education, was the oldest woman of HU. Students and alumni also took part in traditional reunion festivities, including a Greek walking show, fashion show and football game between Howard University and Norfolk State University. Howard lost 45-31.
Meanwhile, former HU student Elijah “Dvine” held Blackburn Fort as a DJ, setting the mood with a framework of melodies at Blackburn Homecoming events and providing moral support when the students faced off. open opposition from university officials.
Explaining why he participated in the unauthorized college event, “Dvine” said Howard’s administration chose to ignore the voice of the students, to their and the college’s great detriment.
âWe are in the midst of a pandemic and Howard has a homecoming in the midst of a protest for adequate housing,â said 2018 graduate Howard.
“How are we even going to get home to a moldy house with bugs in the shower and a rat infestation?” We are not even in the houses. It’s an upcoming tent.