If there is no other take away from Ferguson, Missouri; a town where African-Americans comprise two-thirds of the population but none of its municipal electorate and less than five percent of its police force, its that Black folks need an engine to jumpstart our own destiny.
13 miles away from Ferguson is Harris-Stowe State University, one of two historically Black institutions in Missouri. All eyes should be on HSSU as class returns to session, and raging tempers, hopefully, transform into action for civil justice. Harris-Stowe is known for its criminal justice program, and should be a leading voice of criticism in how the city has botched police action, and on how the citizens have completely muted their own voices in the political process.
HBCU students and faculty nationwide are showing solidarity with Ferguson, but the real call should be solidarity with HSSU; the institution best equipped to stand in the gap for consulting on relationships between the police force and Ferguson residents, and to partner with the city in preparing a next generation of Black police officers to deter future incidents like this.
The ultimate failure in Ferguson is the murder of an unarmed Black man; an occurrence that has become so regular in today’s society, that it seems we are speeding our way back to a culture of violence against Blacks last seen in reconstruction. But we should all take a closer look at what leads up to Ferguson or any other incident of violence against Black people; how educated are we? How much money do we collectively invest in our communities? And how much voice do we have to generate the kind of political clout that prevents incidents like this, instead of priming us to respond to them?
HBCUs are the solution. And fortunately, the family in Ferguson has one just 13 miles away.