by Jasmine Barnes
Since the United States just celebrated black history month, I feel that it is time to remind the black youth in America how truly blessed they are. 150 years ago, slavery still existed. 50 years ago, Jim Crow laws were still in effect. In today’s society, not only do black people have full rights, our country is now being run by a black president. Black people are holding their own in the world of sports and media and there is an abundance of black scholars in top positions throughout the nation.
In the year 1957, three years after the Brown v. Board of Education trial, nine high school-aged students from the town of Little Rock, Arkansas were admitted to an all-white high school. On their first day, hundreds of people were lined up outside with offensive signs screaming at these innocent teens. Everyday at school they were verbally and occasionally physically abused by their peers.
Today, all schools welcome students of all races. As a black student, I feel safe on campus. I have never been called a derogatory term nor have people treated me differently solely based on my race. Some students, however, take this luxury for advantage. Students of color should be more grateful for the education they are receiving. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination in employment and in public places, that students of color were allowed to apply to and attend the university of their choice. That means that the grandparents of students of color probably had a small selection of schools to choose from to receive an education.
Not only does Whitworth University accept students of color, they, like most schools, offer students of color a scholarship based on the fact that they will be representatives of their diverse ethnicity on campus. The universities now want students of color on their campus when only a short time ago, a majority did not. Also, Whitworth is working on implementing more diverse thinkers and scholars into our current curriculum in order to show the students of color leaders of their ethnicity and expose white students to a history that is often not taught in schools across the nation.
I write this to remind the students of color that we are incredibly lucky to have this opportunity. I write this to encourage these students to put their all into the work done in classes and community since people of our color in the past were denied that right. I ask that the students of color be grateful and never forget the struggles of the people who made it possible for us to receive this higher education.
Contact Jasmine Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org