Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week Five: Political and Social Activism at Howard University

Dr. Richard L. Wright used this week's lecture period to discuss the implications of segregation on the African-American community, how students' social and political activism drives have shifted in this generation, and what should be done to recenter ourselves as a student body who is mindful of both our privilege and opportunity as members of the Mecca.

Dr. Wright described segregation as being an institution which drove the African-American community to support one another and push for the importance of education above all costs. Education during the times of segregation was a literal tool that would give a black student any hopes of bettering their future standing in society. At this day in age it is blatantly apparent that a shift in values has occured, that is to say that the institution of education is more commonly undervalued and taken for granted. In my opinion, the most impactful thing that I can do as a member of this generation, with the opportunities that I have to attend a university, is to wholly dedicate myself to my studies.

Dr. Wright, who has not only been a professor at Howard University since 1976, but is also a graduate of the Mecca himself, spent a great deal of his lecture talking on the way that student advocacy roles have drifted from a core value. Howard has always been an institution of excellence, but students have not always been so entirely involved with social and political standings based upon Dr. Wright's presentation. Not until the Civil Rights Movement in the later 20th century did Howard take on a strong role of social and political advocacy in the community. It was a point to be made by Dr. Wright that the sense of communal responsibility that once existed in students of the Mecca has in many ways faded, and it is the current generations duty to revive that spirit.

While I can appreciate the moral that Dr. Wright discussed and promoted, I also do believe that there is a difference between a giving spirit to show appreciation of a community and a required sense of indebtedness to it. I believe that the work that I do as a student at the end of the day is to first improve myself and secondly to benefit others. I do not say this in order to be selfish, but instead to recognize the fact that I can not help others without first being sufficient in my own capabilities.

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