This month’s Diaspora Dialogues was a conversation with Darius Young, P.h.D. on the Riots and the Roots of Black Power at Florida A&M in 1968; in the standing room only Lecture Room 105 of the Meek-Eaton Black Archives Research Center at noon on March 19.
Kwasi Densu P.h.D, professor of history and political science welcomed everyone to Diaspora Dialogues. “The goal of Diaspora Dialogues is to engage the campus, community, and a wider community around the issues relevant to black people, he said.”
“Hopefully the discussion leads to an expansion of our consciousness but also it informs the work we do once we leave the Archives in the interest of our community,” Densu said.
Young, an assistant professor of history at FAMU discussed the Black Power Movement and the rebellion that took place in 1968 on campus. Throughout Young’s tenure as an undergrad and master student, he had never heard of the riots taking place in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination.
A few years ago, Frederick Humphries, the former president at FAMU was speaking at convocation and talked about the activism on campus and the riots that took place.
“He briefly mentioned how students were out not only protesting but shooting guns and all this other stuff on campus. I was just wondering; how I could have been affiliated with the university for so long and not even hear anything about the riots.”
Young said his interest was piqued and he began to engage in research in the Black Archives. . Professor Dawson,.Professor Guzman and one of Young’s students, Kenya Strickland played a big role in helping him gather research.
DJ McWhite, a sophomore pre medicine student from Boston Mass., said she thought that it was impressive that the student body has definitely stopped being as proactive as it used to be.
“I’m a second-generation rattler so I know how they used to protest, marching and everything. I’m surprised when they say the student body doesn’t do that anymore mostly because as hot-headed as our generation is, you’d think they’ll be doing more,” McWhite said.
Young talked about King’s assassination and how the students at FAMU reacted to the news. He showed newspapers from the Tallahassee Democrat on April 5, 1968 referencing an article that stated students were angry about what happened to King.
Adebukola Ogidan, a freshman biology pre med student from Miami Fla., said she thought the conversation was really interesting to learn the history of where FAMU has been and how far we’ve come and how far we need to go.
“I can tell that a lot of students don’t even know about the riots in 1968. I’m interested in history, especially African American history because my parents are Africans so I want to know where our people have been, how far we’ve come, how far we need to go or what we need to do to get to where we’re going,” Ogidan said.
Densu said the next Diaspora Dialogues will be held in April.
“We always want the crowd to be this large,” Densu said.