During this event, Dr. V.P. Franklin will be presented with our 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award (delayed due to pandemic circumstances), and will deliver our annual Celebrate the Humanities lecture, “Reparations, Reparatory Justice, and Youth Activism in the Twenty-First Century.” Additionally, we will celebrate the donation of Dr. Franklin’s papers to the University Libraries at Penn State.
The participation of youth was essential for the success of private and public school desegregation, organized boycotts, and marches and protests during the civil rights campaigns. The children and teenagers came to understand that they would be primary beneficiaries of the breakdown of barriers to educational institutions, employment opportunities, and economic advancement. They also joined the protest because non-participation meant the continuing of the racial status quo and thus they had much to gain and little to lose. The chant was for “Freedom Now!” In the early twenty-first century, there is a pressing need to repair the damage that racial discrimination and exclusion has done to African Americans and other people of color, creating huge disparities in wealth, income, health conditions, and mortality rates. Reparations demands are being made upon the local, state, and federal governments, public and private schools, religious institutions, and capitalist corporations. And given the damage done to the air, land, and water by the fossil fuel and other capitalist industries, reparatory justice campaigns are needed to prevent more catastrophic climate changes and to repair the damage to the physical environment that has already been done. Much is owed to the young people and their chant should be “Reparations Now!”