Being a Full-Time Student and Revolutionary: Roles, Revolution & Education


By: Johnetta Anderson

“As another has well said, to handicap a student by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless is the worst sort of lynching.” – Carter G. Woodson

Revolution: a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.

Student protesting and revolution is nothing new. Black elders and ancestors left great examples of resisting while obtaining an education. Many of our elders who were active in Black Liberation Movements now hold degrees from prestigious colleges and universities. After their involvement in sit-ins, peaceful protests, and boycotts, many of those young revolutionaries went on to become lawyers, professors, teachers, politicians, historians, mentors, and scholars. Many of those revolutionaries used their college education to work for their communities. The role of the Black student is to be a revolutionary, and the role of a revolutionary is to be a student. Our goal as Black students should be to use the education we receive in our career field to help our people.

I’ve been in conversations with comrades who believe that if everyone is not on the front line protesting and marching, then they are somehow not involved in the movement. This is indeed false. There are many roles in revolution. Black people are massively oppressed. As a Black college student and revolutionary, sometimes I struggle with my role in the movement. Where should I be? How should I fight against injustice when the fight is so huge? Here’s what I am learning, we have to use our professions (or intended professions) to fight for revolution and change. Example, I am an English major, and I am studying to become a professor (a cool ass professor). Because of my intended profession, I am always thinking of ways to revamp curriculum to teach African American authors and writers. To me, this is revolution. Although it is not publicized or interesting to the media, it is a form of change. What good is being on the front line marching, if our children are being educated by the enemy? They are both important and vital for Black liberation. Those who are working with youth as teachers, coaches, teaching artists, and facilitators of After school programs are apart of revolution.

One of the things that made the civil rights movement so powerful aside from the protesters is the people who were not marching, but they were affiliated. When lawyers were needed, there were Black lawyers who believed in the movement and were on call for jailed revolutionaries. There were artists who did not march, but provided the theme song, or poem, or painting, or picture for the movement. Doctors and nurses are important. When government closes trauma centers, there should be enough doctors who believe in the movement, to create our own healthcare centers in our neighborhoods. In this day and age when protesting has become the center of media attention, we must also keep in mind that education is important. We cannot afford to turn people away from the movement because they are not involved in peaceful protesting. We need nurses, doctors, lawyers, educators, rappers, poets, authors, photographers, businessmen/women, etc. We also need bail money for protesters.

We have to learn to see the revolution as a long term fight. Because we view revolution as a short term thing, we create short term goals. We also create short term sayings, “I’ll die for revolution” or “I’ll die for the people.” We have to learn how to live for the people and for revolution. What kind of revolutionary will we be at 60 years old or 70 when we don’t have the physical ability to march and protest. Once we learn to view this fight as long term, then we’ll start to invest in finding different solutions to the many problems we face as oppressed people.




One thought on “Being a Full-Time Student and Revolutionary: Roles, Revolution & Education”

  1. Very important that we respect the roles that are needed in the movement and not expect everyone to stand outside holding signs. As we transition to different places in life, we understand and respect the cause, but know that is not a monolithic idea.
    Keep going. Curriculum changes are imperative for our babies to learn and grow into next generation revolutionaries.


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