By Lauren Victoria Burke
A day after Taylor Dumpson, who is an African American woman, was elected to be student body president at American University, nooses and bananas (some with the words “AKA Free” on them) were found hanging in various places on the American University campus.
Dumpson is a member of the historically Black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA). On May 4th, as lawmakers were debating a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and protesters were chanting on Capitol Hill nearby, Dumpson received support from several sectors.
Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, the International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority, flew to Washington, D.C., to stand in support of the American University student. Other members of the AKA sorority stood alongside members of Congress to support Dumpson and to display a sense of strength and solidarity in the face of racism.
Reverend Barbara Skinner opened the Capitol Hill press conference about the suspected hate crime on American University’s campus with a prayer.
“We aren’t in a post-racial society,” Dumpson said. “I think the way to move towards a better society, and a more inclusive society, is to really focus on and appreciate the differences among us, because what makes us different is very important.”
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said that the attack has shaken the community to its core and vowed that, “we’re not going to be stopped.”
Later, in a written statement, Wilson said that no matter how high we go—whether it’s being elected the nation’s first Black president or AU’s first African-American student government president—some people just can’t help themselves from going low.
“Unfortunately, this is not even the first time in the past year that such a controversy has occurred on AU’s campus,” said Wilson. “Without the appropriate action, it will not be the last. Sadder still, American University is not the only campus on which white students are expressing their prejudices against students of color.”
Members called for a federal civil rights investigation of the racism displayed at American University. Students of all backgrounds marched in protest of the incident on May 3. In a statement last week, outgoing American University President Neil Kerwin said, “I regret this happened, apologize to everyone offended, and state emphatically that this incident does not reflect what American University truly is.”
Members of Congress who attended the press conference included Reps. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who hosted the event.
Lauren Victoria Burke is a speaker, writer and political analyst. She appears on “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin every Monday. Lauren is also a frequent contributor to the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Connect with Lauren by email at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.