To the Editors of The Crimson:
This November 16 will mark the second anniversary of the day on which two cold-blooded murders took place at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On November 16, 1972, a peaceful, unarmed group of black students in front of the Administration Building awaiting the promised arrival of the university President with an answer to their demands was stormed by State Police and Sherriff's deputies with tear gas, rifles, pistols, and shotguns. When the smoke cleared, two black students lay mortally wounded.
Again and again, throughout the sixties and early seventies, we have seen the police and the military, the right arm of the White power structure in America, step in to brutally repress any organized efforts of black students to make black colleges accountable to their needs and the needs of the black community. We would do well to remember Jackson State, Texas Southern, South Carolina State, Southern, et. al., because they carry a message for us: to administrators and officials, black or white, who see their vested interest as being in the continued propagation of the ideologies of racism and individualism by the American educational system, the presence of black students on college campuses is conditional. Southern (or Harvard, for that matter) provides the black student with a useful skill on the condition that s/he make this skill an instrument of exploitation, that s/he sell it on the market, that s/he use it only within the confines of a system which insures that there will always be a sizeable group of people with unsatisfied needs.
Black students who cast off this oppressor's mentality and demand that colleges provide facilities and services for the benefit of black communities will meet calculated resistance, ranging from evasive double talk to tear gas and M-16's depending upon the degree to which the student body is expendable to the state. The administration of Southern University consistently lied to black students in responding to demands for more black control of college programs; when they ran out of lies, they used guns to counteract increasing student unity. The administration of Harvard University has lied to its black students, also, as the recent betrayal of agreements for student and Afro-American Studies Department input into the DuBois Institute by the administration and its black lackeys illustrates, and it will take whatever other action it deems necessary to "keep us in our place."
It was violence (the insurrection of the sixties) that forced Harvard to honor a small fraction of its responsibility to black people by increasing its black enrollment in the first place. It is violence that enforces the rules of property ownership with which Harvard constantly indoctrinates its students. In the long run, it is also violence which is used to squash or demoralize any serious, united movement of black students which challenges these property relations, property relations which exploit our people. We certainly don't have to look far for proof of the interdependence of the vested interests controlling the state, the values which education cultivates, and the institutions (military and police) which enforce these values. Murders such as those at Southern should bring us to a higher level of understanding of the need for large-scale unity and organization. Those black students who believe that their presence on this or any other college campus protects them from the racism and repression of the American state should stop for a minute on November 16 and remember what happened two years ago. As far as we, as black students, are concerned, Pogo was only half right: we have, indeed, met the enemy, but he ain't us. Bruce Jacobs '77