It was Soul Food Thursday at Howard University last week, and many students were looking forward to their favorite meal: fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and cornbread. At lunchtime, however, students discovered that much of the campus had been locked down and that the school's cafeteria was off limits.
Apparently, many of them did not know that President Bush and first lady Laura Bush had arrived for a "youth summit" at the Blackburn Center, where the dining hall is located. Stomachs began to growl, tempers flared, and, eventually, a student protest ensued.
During the protest, dozens of students locked arms around a flagpole in the Quadrangle, a designated forbidden zone at the center of the campus, and refused to move despite warnings from campus security that Secret Service rooftop snipers might open fire on them.
On a day when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution paying tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who died last week, campus security guards were telling students that if they wanted to eat they'd have to come back when the president and first lady were gone, then go to a service door at the rear of the dining hall and ask for a chicken plate to go. Never mind that a student meal plan at Howard can cost as much as $2,500 a semester.
To be fair, Howard University President Patrick Swygert probably deserves just as much of the blame for not properly preparing the campus and making sure the student body had advance knowledge of the situation. However, it is wonderfully ironic that Bush's attendance at a youth summit pissed off so many youths.
I don't remember the exact wording, but I think the old adage about civilization being just three missed meals away from collapse has just been reconfirmed.