Marching for justice and rallying for change

Feb.+1+North+Carolina+Agricultural+%26+Technical+State+University+Greensboro+Four+A%26T+Four+Feb.1+Sit-In+Movement

Kendall Ivy/The A&T Register

The February One statue was designed by sculptor James Barnhill, an art professor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. The statue is dedicated to the Greensboro Four (also called the A&T Four): David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan) and Joseph Moore. The four were students at the university who began the sit-in movement at the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter.

Julian Woods, Contributor

This is an op-ed piece. Any views or opinions presented in the article are solely those of the writer and do not represent those of the A&T Register.

In 1961, when Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond sat down at the lunch counter of the F.W. Woolworth Company in Greensboro, they were determined to change our country. Their singular action, a sit-in challenging racial segregation, was a turning point for the civil rights movement. 60 years later, their act of courage is honored on campus with the towering A&T Four monument. 

Each time I pass the bronze and marble statue, the thought always pops into my head: what if we all had the power to change the direction of our nation with one simple action? 

As young Black people, HBCU students and future leaders, we possess that power. For generations, we’ve rallied and marched. Now is the time we turn our anger into action at the ballot box.

In 2020, we can strategically harness our power by getting out to vote and voting early. With your vote, you send a clear message to our state and federal leaders that we will not remain silent. We will not be bullied. We will not stand by in the face of policies designed to keep a knee on our necks. 

Dudley Hall, the building located behind the A&T Four statue is where you can cast your early vote. Same-day voter registration is available if you are not already registered, and this opportunity runs through Oct. 31. If you’re not on campus, go to IWillVote.com/NC to learn how to request a mail-in ballot.

When you walk into the voting booth or mail-in your ballot, remember the names of those unable to let their voices be heard: George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Brianna Taylor and the countless others that never make national news. Either we go out to get them justice, or we allow a system that views Black lives as expendable to continue taking root in this country.

Our campus is no stranger to the efforts of voter suppression and intimidation. In 2011, we saw Republicans take turn our campus into two separate congressional districts, dividing the voice of the nation’s largest HBCU.

Even today, numerous political leaders are trying to intimidate us from voting. we must remain committed to overcoming the onslaught of voter suppression, racism, lies and election fatigue that will only intensify as we get closer to Election Day.

It is imperative for us to fight for and vote for candidates that will deliver:

  • A message of unity. 
  • Recognize that Black people need a governing partner in the White House.
  • Make bold new investments in HBCUs. 
  • Fight to close the pay gap that holds Black women back from economic prosperity.
  • Address the student loan debt crisis.
  • Deliver meaningful police reform to ensure all communities feel safe in America.
  • Handle the pandemic that has taken far too many Black lives.

The bottom line is simple, Iconic leaders of the past and even everyday leaders like our grandparents all fought to make sure Black people had powerful chess pieces in America’s political game. Do not give up our hard-won chess pieces to people who do not care about us, our university, our family, our future, or our lives.

The A&T Four are not celebrated for what words they spoke, but for the actions they took. Be remembered the same way, not for what you said but for what you did. Vote.