The Transition: Student Activism is Alive
Student activism is one of the most underrated aspects of the Howard Experience. In terms of national and international service, Howard is matched by none. In undergrad, I was excited about the opportunity to march to the US Supreme Court to show support for the Howard led Brown vs. Board of Education decision, the rally and accompanying mailing campaign on behalf of the Jena 6, providing hundreds of able bodies to help in the rebuilding of New Orleans (not just once but four years in a row), among many other social justice causes. In graduate school, the spirit of activism is just as strong. Students have come from across the world bringing with them their own undergraduate experiences. Some of them wanted to attend a historically black institution for graduate studies in order to do research or have experiences that would allow them to provide knowledge and assistance to the global black community.
As many of you know, two of the major social justice causes of the year on Howard’s campus are health care for all Americans and gun violence protection. This week the entire Howard University community will be coming together to rally for both of the causes. Tuesday, September 15, will be a major health care rally with representatives from Congress and the White House that will start at 7 PM in Cramton Auditorium. This Friday, Mr. Howard, Melech Thomas will lead a march focusing on gun violence protection. Both events are free and will allow all of us to learn more about issues and concerns that have affected the African American community drastically.
A disproportionate amount of people of color do not have access to quality health care. Millions of people die a year because of preventable diseases; unfortunately, those uninsured do not seek care until it is too late and wind up dead or bankrupt because of the extreme costs affiliated with the emergency room. Howard University has a history of reaching out to our community to provide health care to all. The oldest building on our campus was once known as the freedman’s hospital and provided care to former slaves who could not receive care anywhere in the area. Currently, Howard University Hospital is one of the only places in the area that opens its doors to the uninsured. It causes us to go in the red, but we realize that if it were not for us thousands of people in the district would not have any medical care at all. The DC government has not made it a priority to create more hospitals to care for its community, many of which are not insured.
Health care reform is not just an important issue for them, but it is a major issue for young adults as well. Many of us would not have insurance if it were not for our student health insurance and after we graduate many of us will not have health insurance at all because we will be dropped from our parent’s plan. Media outlets across the country are claiming that our generation has not provided a voice in the health care debate. Tuesday night we will prove to them that we do care because it will affect us longer than anyone else in the debate. Howard, undergraduates and graduate students: the nation is waiting for us. We have long been the voice of moral causes for the nation and the world. We gave voice for the voiceless during the apartheid, all civil rights movements, and children. It is time we gave voice for those who are uninsured and for those of us who simply want better coverage. I hope to see you all Tuesday night!