By J. K. Schmid
The student protests at Howard University have entered its third week.
The student struggle at the nation’s foremost HBCU, is now receiving reinforcements as it draws growing national attention.
Hundreds of Howard students have occupied the Armour J. Blackburn University Center and have erected a tent city on the Blackburn Center’s surrounding grounds.
Students are protesting reportedly inhumane and horrific living conditions in the campus dormitories. Firsthand video and photos and aggregated reports include flooding, mold, rats, mice and cockroaches where students sleep, study, bathe and eat.
Students are documenting their living conditions and actions in protest with the hashtag #BlackburnTakeover.
Reverend Jesse Jackson joined protestors on a Zoom call Oct. 29, theGrio reported.
“Students should not be punished but appreciated for standing up for justice,” Jackson reportedly said.
“Housing is a human right,” Representative Ayanna Pressley captioned a photo of herself on Twitter. “Proud to stand in solidarity with students at @HowardU organizing and mobilizing for housing justice.”
“Standing in solidarity with Howard students for #BlackburnTakeover,” Representative Jamaal Bowman captioned a video of his visit with Howard protestors. “It’s Day 18 and their demands still have not been met – these students deserve better.”
The National Bar Association (NBA), a professional network representing 65,000 attorneys and judges, predominantly Black, weighed in as of Oct. 29.
“The NBA stands with the students of Howard University and all HBCU students,” the NBA said in a statement to CNN. “The NBA believes that just as our HBCUs demand the best of their students, those institutions must also provide the best service possible to their students. If the reports are accurate, these reported conditions are indeed substandard and simply unacceptable.”
Howard University’s President, Wayne A. I. Frederick continues to call for an end to the protest.
“The occupation of the Blackburn center must end.” Frederick wrote on Oct. 25.
The meandering letter reminds students that they are better off than slaves, and appeals to a more docile student protest tradition, before conditioning the spending of $2 billion in renovations on the end of the protest.
“This is exciting progress and can only be achieved through coming together as one Howard. One Bison,” Frederick wrote. “That oneness doesn’t exist without its share of complexity. Regardless of those tensions, respect for one another must always be paramount. We, all, have our part to play in the journey to excellence.”
Students are calling for Frederick’s removal as president via a vote of no confidence.
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