Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Students finding their voice, acting powerfully

Four days after 19-year old Tony Robinson was shot dead by a police officer in Wisconsin, protests have continued. Hundreds of high school and university students, some visibly grieving the loss of their friend, left classrooms and occupied the state capitol building yesterday.
The struggle continues -- I was impressed by the response of the Madison, WI school district leaders as hundreds of high school students joined their big brothers and sisters from UW in protesting the killing of Tony Robinson.

This from the Wisconsin State Journal:
Madison School District officials embraced the students’ rally by asking community leaders to come to the Capitol to ensure the students remained safe. They also provided seven buses for transportation back to school after the rally.
Students were not disciplined for attending, and could be excused by their parents, said district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson. Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and other district officials were at the rally.
“In general, we thought it was important that if students chose to demonstrate, that we ensure they are safe and provide positive adult presence to support our students as they express their concerns, grief and questions,” said Strauch-Nelson.

O-O-O-Oklahoma... The immediate and massive student response to the racist OU frat-boy ravings caught on video, has forced action on the part of the university president. Good lesson to be drawn here about the power of direct action. Fancy speeches are fine, as far as they go.

But the question remains, did they just discover the racist, white-only fraternities and sororities that dominate university social life at OU? Where have you been Pres. Boren?

For old-timers, the OU events might have sparked memories of the The Tulsa white race riot of 1921 which is rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. With the number of survivors declining, in 1996, the state legislature commissioned a report to establish the historical record of the events, and acknowledge the victims and damages to the black community. Released in 2001, the report included the commission's recommendations for some compensatory actions, most of which were not implemented by the state and city governments. The state passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, economic development of Greenwood, which was known as Black Wall Street at the time, and a memorial park to the victims in Tulsa.

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