The One Story: HBCUs And The Gatekeeping Of Black Culture
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Rev. Jesse Jackson is recovering after taking a spill and cutting his head while meeting with student protesters at Howard University on Monday, according to his daughter. The civil rights icon has been offering guidance and support to students at the famed HBCU while they demand an improvement to their living conditions on the campus in Washington, D.C.

Students are in their third week of protests over issues like mold found in dormitories and certain administrative policies.

Jackson, 80, was returning from meeting with Howard University administration officials to meet with students and let them know how the conversation went when he fell and hit his head on the pavement, suffering what was described as a “cut,” according to the Grio, which first reported the accident. He was rushed to the hospital for treatment and further observation. But according to his daughter, Jackson is healing up nicely.

“Family, he’s resting comfortably & doing well: we thank u 4 ur prayers!” Sanita Jackson tweeted. “Fighting 4 u is what he’ll always do.”

In an apparent reference to the Grio reporting that Jackson “secured a verbal agreement from Howard University’s administration to allow students to end their protest without facing expulsion,” Sanita Jackson added: “His goal is 2 ensure the well-being of@HowardU students: #MissionAccomplished.”

Jackson also reportedly got Howard to guarantee that it would check all dorm rooms suspected of having mold, which can cause serious health problems.

The Rainbow Push Coalition, a nonprofit political and social justice organization founded and led by Jackson, offered a similarly positive outlook for the reverend.

“When Rev. Jackson entered a building on campus, he fell and hit his head. His staff took him to the Howard University Hospital where various tests were run including a CT scan,” Rainbow Push Coalition told CNN in a statement. “The results came back normal. However, hospital officials decided to keep Rev. Jackson overnight for observation.”

Howard University also confirmed Jackson was hospitalized and said its President Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick met with him Monday night. “Our prayers are with the Jackson family,” the university tweeted.

Jackson has had an eventful past few months, including being hospitalized for COVID-19 along with his wife in late August. About two months earlier in June, Jackson was arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police for protesting Senate Republicans filibustering voting rights legislation after restrictive election laws were enacted in several key states.

Jackson’s tireless efforts fighting for civil rights continued this past weekend at Howard University, where he urged students to “never surrender.”

“Students should not be punished but appreciated for standing up for justice,” Jackson also reportedly said.

Expounding upon that same sentiment, Jackson reportedly said during a town hall on campus Sunday night, “This is not a legal issue, this is a moral issue.”

The protest first began as a sit-in on Oct. 12 when students spent the night in the Blackburn Center to get university leadership to heed their complaints about a “housing crisis” for students as well as the university’s board of trustees, among issues.

The protest sparked a viral #BlackburnTakeover hashtag that populated social media timelines with photos, video footage and first-person testimonials from inside and outside of the Blackburn Center in a demonstration of solidarity against the university administration.

According to the Live Movement, an organization advocating for Black college students, the protesters at Howard have three demands: 1) an in-person town hall meeting with Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick before the month ends; 2) for all “affiliate trustee positions” and their voting power to be reinstated to Howard’s Board of Trustees; and 3) the board of trustees to address a “housing plan” in an effort to “protect incoming classes.”

Protesters initially wanted an in-person meeting with Frederick and other campus leaders to directly address their demands. Now, they want a vote of no-confidence against him.

Chief among the students’ complaints have been reports of mold in campus dormitories. One person even claimed that a fellow student has been hospitalized from the model after “coughing up blood,” claims that were also reported by local media.

Students recently took shots at Howard’s 40-year contract with Corvias, the property management company hired to provide maintenance for the dorms. In a video posted to Twitter, a student called Corvias a “very slum lordy company” and explained her issues with the company.

“They don’t respond to maintenance requests,” the student said. “I requested my air filter be cleaned multiple times, it hasn’t been cleaned or changed. There is also mold growing from the exit sign outside of my dorm.”

Howard president Frederick in a public letter last week called for students to end their occupation of the Blackburn Center.

“The truth remains that all of our students deserve a best-in-class dormitory experience at Howard, and we will continue to do our best to ensure that they receive it,” Frederick wrote in part. “While there have only been a small number of documented facilities reports relative to our entire inventory of residence rooms, we are actively inquiring about unreported issues that may be in the residence halls by going door to door to interview and assist each resident.”


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