The NAACP President and CEO, Derrick Johnson, the National Director of Youth and College, Wisdom Cole, and the NAACP DC Branch President, Akosua Ali, released the following statements regarding the 48-Hour Howard University Student Sit-In:
"The courageous act of protest from Howard University Students should be recognized in this moment. At no point is it acceptable for a student to face housing insecurities while attending school, said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. "Their demands must be met with swift attention and due diligence from the HU administration immediately."
"The NAACP Youth and College Division stands in solidarity with the Howard University students. Their actions will be the catalyst for positive and substantial change," said Wisdom Cole, national director of the Youth and College Division. "We join the HU student community and call on President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick and the chairman of the board to meet with the student leaders with open ears to hear their concerns and move toward action."
"Howard University students protesting for environmental justice, housing reform, governance, resource re-allocation and political accountability is a long-standing legacy of developing and empowering leaders in the fight for civil rights and the empowerment of Black people," stated NAACP DC Branch President Akosua Ali. "We support the students in coordinating a Virtual Town Hall with President Frederick to discuss the issues and the university's efforts to resolve the concerns. In addition, we urge that all affiliate trustee positions on the Board of Trustees be reinstated with voting power. More importantly, we want to ensure no retaliatory actions are taken against the student protestors. We are training them up now, as the next generation of fierce fighters for tomorrow."
The National NAACP and NAACP DC Branch and supports Howard University student protestors' right to protest and supports communication between students and the Administration to address the housing, mold, governance and public health issues impacting academic and student life. Over 80 students have been in protest for over 48-hours locked into the Howard University Blackburn Center with housing, environmental, public health and civic engagement demands of Howard University's Administration and a demand for the Biden Harris Administration to fully fund HBCUs as well as to secure and release the legal memo from the Education Secretary Miguel Cardona detailing President Biden's power to cancel student loan debt. In support of the students right to protest, we also want to ensure academic immunity and no retaliatory actions are taken against the student protestors.
Howard University is a historic institution, founded in 1867 by the Freedman Bureau as a center of higher learning for former slaves. Today, Howard University is known as the "Mecca," of Black excellence, empowering fierce generations of leaders empowered to demand social change. Social action and protesting to demand change have been a cornerstone of Howard University. In 1968, about 1,000 Howard University students took over the administration building and other critical buildings, shutting down the school from March 19 through March 23, 1968 demanding policy and curriculum changes. In 1974, students protested tuition increases. Over the years there have been subsequent protests in 1989, 2015 and 2018. Howard University students continue a long legacy of fighting for governance, economic, political and social change.
According to Howard University President Wayne Frederick, he met with several of the student leaders yesterday in response to the student demands, he has committed to bi-weekly meetings with students and he is willing to participate in other forums to address students' concerns. Howard University supports the students right to protest and the Administration does not intend to take any retaliatory actions against students, absent any criminal activities or vandalism.