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The Reverend Jesse Jackson has taken a stand with students at Howard University in protesting against students’ unsafe living conditions. The civil rights movement icon has met with students and supporters at Howard in order to throw his support behind their cause.
The hashtag #BlackStudentsMatter has made waves across social media as students protest against unsanitary living conditions, including mold in dorms, and the lack of student engagement with administrative officials who are expected to support students’ rights.
Students are also demanding a call for a vote of no-confidence in current Howard President Dr. Wayne Frederick. Dr. Frederick has held on to his position despite several requests to remove or replace the president through a vote of no-confidence.
The students’ protest has been going on for nearly three weeks. On Friday evening, Reverend Jackson attended a Zoom meeting with other supporters of the Howard students.’ In a follow-up statement, he said, “Students should not be punished but appreciated for standing up for justice.”
Meanwhile, one student, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by the University’s governing board, noted the difficulty in protesting against the major Historically Black College and University. School officials have thus far refused to even meet with students to discuss their requests.
In fact, the University has advised the students to retain an attorney in order to negotiate with the University’s decisions. However, despite obtaining an attorney, the school still refuses to meet with the students.
The protest began with just over 20 students, and has ballooned to over 150, some of whom are occupying buildings on campus. The students’ protest pertains not only to Howard but to all HBCU, in a call to provide more support to all HBCU students.
The Howard protest has sparked protests at other HBCU, including Spelman College and Morehouse University, in which students are demanding greater support from faculty and administrators. At least one student has vowed not to leave until their demands are met.
Reverend Jackson is yet another HBCU student supporter with major name recognition. Others include United States representatives Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman.