This year alone, the United States of America has witnessed and undergone a most drastic political and economic value shift that is undeniably impacting the country in varying aspects. From our dwindling education support system, to radical hate crimes and discussion of war, we are being coerced under a leadership that does not see value in the idea of America as “The Great Melting Pot.” Rather, this administration aids in the filter agenda, suggesting that this course of action will “Make America Great Again.” With the restoration of hate rhetoric, we have also seen an emergence of activists, especially millennials, who desire to consider their country— their world— a safe haven for all.
This past weekend in Charlottesville, a group of students in support of the Black Lives Matter cause, peacefully counter-protested for the rights and liberties of minorities and marginalized people. As they chanted, they were met with the fury and weapons of white nationalist, klansmen, neo-nazis and other racial hate groups, threatening them with obscenities and being physically abrasive with no remorse or consequence. A young woman was killed, many were badly injured, but all are impacted, near and far.
Wilberforce University – America’s First Private Historically Black College & University, founded by William Wilberforce, an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to stop the slave trade – openly opposes racism and injustice of any kind. President Herman J. Felton, Jr., used the Renaissance occurring at Wilberforce to address this Renaissance of Racism, reflecting on the incident with his most recent open letter about the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia. President Felton questions how such occurrences would impact the student body in HBCU communities, the morale of youth and minorities within our education system, and how these youth now are to be cautious that their own campuses may be overtaken by hate.
So, what now? The President presented a call-to-action, the formation of safe spaces for students to gather, discuss, organize, and unify without judgment, bias, or the fear of violence or fatality. Felton highlighted in his letter:
“… as president, I am left asking what now, more specifically what more should we do. Should students at HBCUs, who are recipients of the dream, be transformed into ‘Guardians of the Dream?’ I think so. Keepers of the Dream have license to pontificate about theory. Guardianship is rooted in action and dictates that we oversee the dream into fruition. The effort for Wilberforce to lead will come through the Dr. Mark and Shelly Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship, Social Good and Transformative Leadership. The Center will serve as a core to creating an experience for Wilberforce students to develop and cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit, participate in transformative leadership opportunities, and grapple with social justice issues of our time. The riot this past weekend is another example of how we are quickly devolving as a nation and must also serve as fuel for continuing to implement social change. What role will you play?”