Over 100 students from Howard University gathered yesterday in front of The Washington Post’s official headquarters to address comments made by columnist Courtland Milloy.
In an editorial, Milloy stated that Howard University students protested the visit of President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush because their presence inhibited students from partaking in a lunch that consisted of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and cornbread.
Milloy also stated in his editorial that Howard University is no longer the hotbed of political activism it was once in the days of Kwame Toure and Walter Rodney. Milloy surmised that the University’s biggest event of the year is Homecoming.
To refute these statements, the Howard University Student Association, under the leadership of President Byron Stewart and Vice President April Harley, organized a mass gathering in front of The Washington Post headquarters with the aim of receiving a formal apology for Milloy’s declarations in addition to a retraction of his editorial by the Washington Post.
"We are here today because we disagree strongly with the way we have been portrayed in the Washington Post. We resent the fact that Howard University’s students have been characterized as buffoons who care only about fried chicken and not about education. We are here today because we are tired of being told that we do not do anything. We continue the struggle by excelling in the boardroom, courtroom, and classroom with the knowledge we attained from Howard University ," said Harley.
On Thursday, Oct. 27, students at Howard University were locked out of classes, offices, and the main cafeteria when the President and First Lady arrived for a youth summit sponsored by the Bush administration titled "Helping America’s Youth." Neither Howard University students nor faculty were invited to participate in the event.
Outraged by the inaccessibility of the campus and the youth summit, Howard students locked arms around a flagpole on the main yard, a designated forbidden zone at the center of the campus, and refused to move despite warnings from campus security.
"Milloy presented the world with an inaccurate depiction of Howard University students,” said Ashlee Brown, a junior international business who attended yesterday’s Washington Post rally. “We were not protesting over the inaccessibility of a meal. We were locked out of the yard from every angle. We forced to take the back entrance because Master Bush and his mistress were here. That is why we protested."
While positioned in front of the Washington Post building, Howard students challenged Milloy to come to Howard University and experience their activist efforts.
”Just a few a weeks ago, thousands of Howard University students participated in the Millions More Movement,” Stewart said. “That was political activism. Last month, Howard University students raised thousands of dollars for Hurricane Katrina victims. That was political activism. Everyday we are in our classrooms getting an education for those who can not, that is political activism.”
The demonstration was closed with a rendition of “I’m So Glad I go to Howard U.” and a prayer.
”Howard University has an activist pulse,” said Michelle Cody, a senior economics major. “We are passionate about the things that we define as important. In [Milloy’s] article, he told us that we had no pulse. No pulse in our community, no pulse in America, no pulse in the activism that takes place on campus. No, we don’t march every day, but there are over 175 organizations on campus that lead in community service and youth outreach. They strive to make sure African American students, children, and people thrive. His haphazard attempt to define the pulse of Howard University is unresearched and unwarranted.”