Amanda Raymond column: MLK would be proud

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Montgomery Bus Boycott when he was 26 years old. He did not wait until he was a little older or had a little more experience to get involved in social issues. He knew the issues African Americans were facing could not wait to be acted on.

Students on college campuses across the nation have the same idea. They do not have to wait until they are out of school to get involved in social issues. They can start where they are, no matter how old they are. Students can affect change, and what happened at the University of Missouri is proof.

A white student at the Missouri University of Science and Technology was arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat. He was suspected of posting online threats to shoot African-American students and faculty at the university.

After that incident, the system president of the University of Missouri and Columbia campus chancellor resigned from their positions while the university was going through some serious racial issues.

There were previous incidents of African Americans being the targets of racial slurs and a swastika found drawn in feces on the wall of a dormitory bathroom.

Student organizations complained about the administration’s inaction in dealing with the racism issues on campus. The way the students banded together was remarkable. There were not just protests and demonstrations, there was a hunger strike and even the football team got involved by threatening to boycott a game.

Those actions undoubtably had an impact on the resignations.

The students took a smart approach to the situation that Dr. King would have been proud of. Not only did they visibly show their stance against the racism they were experiencing, they took their stance to the next level. Although the football team did not have to go through with the boycott, they mirrored the approach Dr. King took with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. People listen when their money is being threatened. And they even took it to Mahatma Gandhi’s level with the hunger strike. When Gandhi went on hunger strikes while imprisoned, the British authorities did not want to ruin their reputation by having him to die in their custody. No one wants a child to die on campus, especially when it is because he or she is protesting something that the school can do something about.

College students have always been known for protesting and speaking out against different issues throughout American history, from the Vietnam War to the Civil Rights Movement to the police brutality issues of the last couple of years.

And the protests don’t just stay on one campus. When one campus suffers, they all suffer, as seen with Livingstone College’s rally supporting the students at the University of Missouri last week.

Devinae Haywood, president of the NAACP chapter at Livingstone, said being a part of an organization that holds events like that teaches leadership.

“Being a part of this chapter is very important to me because it’s where leaders are born. It’s where students develop a voice,” she said.

Raven Weathers, president of the Student Government Association, also said her organization gives not only students, but the community a voice.

“The reason why I wanted to get involved in student government is because I know that there’s a silent voice that needs to be spoken in regards to the life and the community of our school and the community of Salisbury,” she said.

Through all of the protests, rallies and demonstrations over the racism at the University of Missouri, students once again showed how their voice can change things.