52 years and counting?
Will there ever be healing over BAC's 1969 Science Building Takeover or will the silence continue?
When the sun rises Thursday at Belmont Abbey College, classes will likely go on as planned with students preparing for their May final exams. Fifty-one years ago, those classes were interrupted. For 10 hours, the small college outside of Charlotte was brought to a standstill.
Nine Black men took to the roof of the school’s science building after locking the doors in the heat of the Vietnam War and nationwide college protests. They brought the campus to a halt over issues we today we take for granted -- celebrating Martin Luther King’s birthday as a holiday, having Black professors, access to literature from more than a handful of Black voices in the library. These men put their college careers on the line and stood up so that they could get a better college experience for themselves and future Black students.
There own college experience at the Abbey ended abruptly when the students were indefinitely suspended for the peaceful protest days later.
Unlike the events at colleges regionally and nationally at that time, talks between the students and administration at Belmont Abbey reached a resolution without violence. The same week, a small cadre of Voorhees College (Denmark, S.C.) students armed with guns took over two college buildings.
This year of all years, I thought was going to be the year of reconciliation. Especially in times like these when issues of race and equality are playing out in America for all to see.
Several states are stepping backwards, cracking down on the right to speak out, even making protesting a felony.
At the same time, some are trying to right the wrongs of the past. For example, Philadelphia officials have apologized for the 1985 MOVE bombing that killed two innocent Black girls.
While Voorhees College students and administration commemorated their takeover in 2019, Belmont Abbey College still chooses to downplay this moment in its history.
Howard Fuller pictured, second from left, being taken away by two Gaston County law enforcement officials. Photo from The Passaic-Clifton (N.J.) Herald-News
When the sun sets Thursday, it marks another year of a missed opportunity for healing and reconciliation between the college and the student protestors who are still alive.