In addition to campus life being alienating, he experienced uncomfortable moments in the city of Lexington as well. In 2011, the same year the city council passed an ordinance forbidding the displaying of the Confederate Flag on city property, Taylor says he was surprised by a “Save The Flag” parade.
“These people dressed in Confederate regalia marched up and down the town displaying flags,” he said. “It was like the damnedest thing. The University didn’t warn us at all.”
However, not all of the law students support The Committee members. Second-year law student Hernandez Stroud says many of the Black students he’s spoken with think The Committee’s actions are divisive.
“I think that a lot of people believe that water could have been used to solve these issues instead of fire,” Stroud, who is also president of the school’s Black Law Students Association, told the Washington Post.
Members of The Committee aren’t the only students who have protested about racial isolation on campus, though. Calling themselves UCLA 33, a group of minority law students released a YouTube video in February decrying the racial animus they say is directed towards them on campus.
Alexis Gardner, one of the students who appeared in the video, got this note in her mailbox in response:
At Harvard, a group of Black students started a Tumblr, “I, Too, Am Harvard,” which highlights photographic reflections of the racist things White classmates have said to them. Like this photo of student who apparently had no business at the Ivy League school:
“There is still this idea that Black people don’t belong there,” said Jelani Cobb, director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut. “That they’ve been given something that they don’t deserve. That they’ve been given something out of a sense of racial compensation for the past. In a real sense, it highlights the bigger issue about race, which is not simply a calcified attitude about people of a different background. It’s very much about resources and access. That’s where this competition comes from. There is a belief that when Black people gain something, White people lose something. They are taking a space that could have gone to a deserving White student without ever asking whether there is a student of color who didn’t get in because a White student did.”
That Black students still feel alienated on predominately White campuses as we approach the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education comes as no surprise to Tanisha C. Ford, assistant professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, who has written about race and racism on college campuses.
“Mainstream institutions of higher learning were never designed to admit and educate Black and Brown students,” Ford said. “Over one hundred years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, sixty years after Brown versus the Board [of Education], we’re still feeling the effects of White supremacy and discriminatory practices at these institutions.”
Committee members say they understand why some would be skeptical of their delayed accusations of an unwelcoming environment—especially since the school is named after a man who is arguable the primary symbol of the Confederacy and southern resistance. But Adams said she would have appreciated the school being more upfront about it so she could have made a more informed opinion over whether to attend or not.
“I want the university to address and acknowledge these things,” Adams said. “The university has actually cleaned up its history and has given a version of history that they like, as is the case in many American history books. I want them to address our issues of being uncomfortable. They are telling this story to other minority students and continue to get other minority students to get higher rankings. But they are not addressing our issues. They’re trying to silence us. We want to ensure that other people know that these are issues before coming to this school so they are not bamboozled the way that we were.”