for Rosa Parks, the civil rights pioneer.
BUSH TICKS OFF HOWARD STUDENTS DURING VISIT: Security protocol disrupts classes, events and Soul Food Thursday.
(November 1, 2005)
President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush got in the way of Soul Food Thursday on the campus of Howard University last week, causing further resentment of the Commander in Chief among students at the Washington HBCU.
The Bushes were there to attend a summit on at-risk youth at the school’s Blackburn Center, and as such, Secret Service put the whole school on lockdown. Classes and tests were canceled and many buildings, including the dining hall in the Blackburn Center hosting Soul Food Thursday, were closed. This meant no fried chicken, no macaroni and cheese, no collard greens and no cornbread.
Many students began to protest the denied access to parts of their own university. They locked arms around a flagpole in the Quadrangle and refused to be moved, despite threats from the Secret Service that snipers were at the ready on rooftops.
Adding insult to injury, students also said university police interfered with a television news crew trying to interview students and shoot video of the student protests. The crew was reportedly asked to leave campus.
Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy wrote of the incident in Sunday’s paper: “What might have been a public relations coup for Bush – a visit to an historically black college to show concern for at-risk youths – ended up as another Katrina-like moment, with the president appearing spaced out, waving and smiling for television cameras while students were trying to break through campus security to get to the cordoned-off cafeteria.”
A message from school President Patrick Swygert posted on the school's Web site, dated Oct. 26, says the university community was told of the event in July and a map of the affected buildings was posted. But many students said the news did not reach them until the lockdown was already in effect.
Meanwhile, parents, educators, community leaders and students participated in the one-day summit designed to develop ways for young people avoid risky behavior and become healthy, successful adults.