Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was interrupted by student activist group, AUC Shut it Down, as she attempted to bring light to issues regarding race, police brutality and other matters directly affecting the African-American community. Although the protest was short lived, “The hell you talmbout?” seemed to be the question on everyone’s mind after the activists were physically escorted out of the building. “Hillary Clinton will do anything to get elected,” Spelman sophomore Jill Cartwright said during an interview with me.
“As the former Secretary of State and First Lady of the United States, she knows what she needs to do to win.” Cartwright believes Clinton is exploiting and tries to capitalize off the Black community’s issues to gain their support. Da’Shaun Harrison, a Morehouse sophomore, said AUC Shut It Down protesters were not interested in hearing Clinton’s speech because it would contain the same rhetoric she’s been using since the beginning of her political career. “What we wanted was to apply pressure to her to let her know that we see the lack of substantial, concrete plan and we’re not going to allow her to keep up this facade that she’s really offering something new,” Harrison said.
So Hillary, what the hell you talkin’ ‘bout? With a history of support for reforms and policy that has directly affected the African-American community in a negative manner, the student activists had a point with there message of “[Hillary] can’t be invited into a Black space and not listen when Black people talk about Black issues.” However, silencing Hillary Clinton during her speech didn’t come with open and welcoming arms. The students involved in the protest received both positive and negative feedback about their protest during and after its completion. Clarissa Brooks, a Spelman sophomore, began to discuss her disappointment in the AUC student body as a collective.
“AUC students have been complacent and silent in their feelings. I was hoping that people would have more courage to speak up and out.” Terrance McQueen followed up on her statement with, “People were having conversations about us, around us, it was unsettling. For a Black woman to tell us, “Black lives matter but not now” was unsettling. That made me uncomfortable. That hurts.” The student activists knew that their protest would receive a lot of negative attention, but they didn’t think a lot of that negative attention would come from people within the AUC. Their negative experience with students of the AUC not accepting their form of activism lead the conversation to an interesting point. Although Hillary was the focus for the protestors of AUC Shut it Down, she wasn’t the only person they had words for. Parker Williams voiced, “[Our institutions] romanticize civil disobedience. We always get taught the cookie cutter versions of activism. They never supported us doing something extraordinary. They want us to be acceptable to white people.” Cartwright ended the interview with, “I feel like the AUC operates around a system of respectability. They don’t want people to make noise. They don’t want revolutionary change.”
With an abundance of civil rights leaders and political activists that once called themselves students of Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, one would think that the institutions would be more supportive of their students demanding change. Hillary Clinton coming to the AUC caused eyebrows to raise at the efforts of the presidential candidate and to call out Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta University for not being more aggressive with the change they want their students to be a part of.