As 2014 comes to an end, we want to highlight examples of activism within the HBCU context. This year, more than any other, we saw these venerable institutions capitalize on their rich history of activism and making meaningful change.
1. Students at the Atlanta University Center colleges came together to protest the events of Ferguson, MO, uniting in a candle light vigil at Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King International Chapel and leading a peace rally on the Clark Atlanta University campus.
2. Students at Howard University, along with students from area public schools, came together to protest in front of the White House about the events of Ferguson, MO.
3. Students at Lincoln University staged a silent protest pertaining to then President Robert Jennings’s commentary on women, rape, and sexuality.
4. LGBTQ students at HBCUs have become more vocal about their needs on campus and spoke up, asking HBCU administrators to provide support services and open environments.
5. At HBCUs across the nation – including Virginia State University and Tennessee State University – students protested the decrease in state funding for higher education and subsequent increased student loan debt needed to attend college.
6. Spelman suspended its Cosby chair in wake of growing sexual assault claims from women throughout the country. Some students at Spelman spoke out in support of Cosby while others – a larger group – protested using social media. They used the hashtag #NotMyFather referring to Cosby’s classic television character Cliff Huxtable.
7. HBCU students came together to bring attention to HIV/AIDS in Black communities using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Increasingly, HBCU students are using social media to command attention to issues.
8. Howard University alumni came together to support their alma mater with an ‘HBCU Love’ campaign, bringing attention to the need for endowment support among alumni. They used social media, traditional media, and personal narratives to champion their cause.
We hope that these actions on the part of students and alumni will inspire you to act when you feel passionate about an issue or cause. Make 2015 the year of change for you and others.
About the Authors
Marybeth Gasman is a professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves as the Director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Marybeth is an expert on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Black leadership, fundraising and philanthropy in communities of color and Minority Serving Institutions. She is the author of 18 books in these subject areas and many articles.