Hampton students are free

We reported last week on Hampton University (Virginia), a historically black college where students were rounded up by police and faced expulsion for holding a peaceful demonstration. The episode revealed the school's shocking restrictions on free speech, including a ban on handing out literature not approved by the university.

The students faced disciplinary hearings on Friday, and in part due to national outcry, won't be expelled. Thanks to the Facing South readers who called in.

John Robinson, one of the group's main organizers, has written a dispatch with the latest news. It appears the crack-down has only energized the student activists, who see their fight connected to struggles around the country:

Hampton's practices provide evidence that what was true 80 years ago, remains true today. Assertive political activity among Black Americans is viewed as doubly blasphemous, and as such is met with the harshest repression. We will not heed the advise of detractors who say that if we don't like the school we should transfer. We know that we are here for a reason and we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters both student and non-student to serve the community as best we can.

The actions of the administration has made Hampton's campus fertile ground for social activism. We must capitalize on that and demand a comprehensive change in practice and policy relating to progressive thought. This is not merely a free speech issue. With what many call the largest urban renewal project in American history happening in New Orleans, it is vital that these issues be central to general political discourse, especially among African Americans.