From the outside looking in on Grambling State University’s chaotic snow day on the morning of Feb. 12, one would assume that the city’s officials committed acts of bigotry, as many city and state officials did during the Civil Rights Movement.
Numerous pictures and videos went viral of Grambling’s Fire Department riding through freshman village in fire trucks spraying the dormitories, where students were present, with high-pressured water hoses. But, as I did my research on the situation like the journalist that I am, I later discovered that the firefighters who were perceivably hosing GSU students, intentions were harmless because they were just “playing”.
In fact, a student said that they and the fire department had a snowball fight and since the students out numbered the fire department, firefighters used hoses to help them out match the students and no one was harmed.
Later that morning, KNOE channel 8 local news broke a story, “Grambling students claim to be hosed down by fire dept.” I posted the visual on my Instagram page then a GSU student, Ke-Ke Greenwood commented saying, “I promise it was no where near as bad as people making the story to be, NOWHERE NEAR. No-one was in danger.”
Whether they were playing or not, I completely disagree with how the situation was handled.
First the students were in danger. Some students claims to have gotten wet, which could lead to sickness that could have jeopardized our university.
The spraying of the water created multiple hazardous situations. Someone could have gotten injured from the high water pressure or what if students injured themselves by falling on the wet surfaces? Grambling State University would be in some type of legal trouble.
Secondly, the firefighters are now in danger. Why? Since the fire department stooped down to the students’ level and wanted to be unprofessional and “play,” they now face the possibility of losing their jobs. I don’t know the proper protocol, but I’m pretty sure hosing wasn’t it.
Third, the university was in danger. What this incautious, chaotic act did was shed more negative attention to Grambling State University’s prestigious name.
GSU is known for a place that produces Black excellence, but as of lately, the university has been in the negative light and this situation added to the negativity.
Lastly, we put ourselves in danger. Like I said earlier, although the fire department was “playing,” from the outside looking in, it’s perceived as Black folks getting hosed by city officials. If that’s doesn’t sound familiar, the country has failed in their part of educating the people about Black history. I find it ironic that we look on the news to see Black people getting hosed and Black people are historically senseless and ignorant enough to be OK with it.
Our Freedom Fighters didn’t fight for this type of behavior. If they were alive today, this wouldn’t be tolerated, nor accepted. If you don’t know much about Black folks getting hosed, let me enlighten you.
In 1963, Birmingham Alabama civil rights activists participated in one of the most momentous demonstrations that contributed to the desegregation of Blacks and Whites, The Birmingham Campaign.
The Birmingham Campaign were nonviolent protests that resulted in the removal of “White Only” and “Black Only” signs from restrooms and drinking fountains in downtown Birmingham; desegregated lunch counters; deployed a “Negro job improvement plan”; released jailed demonstrators; and created a biracial committee to monitor the agreement.
During their nonviolent movement, the activists participated in lunch counter sit-ins, marches in City Hall and boycotts in businesses downtown.
In an effort to prevent the movement, one of the police’s tactics would be to spray the demonstrators with high-powered hoses that led to multiple injuries, including women and children.
The Birmingham Campaign happened 51 years ago and to see the same behavior-taking place in modern time is humiliating. It is as if the students and the firefighters that were Black are unappreciative of what our Freedom Fighters did for us. Although the intent of the firefighters wasn’t to harm anyone, their ignorant behavior is just as bad.
Kevin Keise is a senior mass communication major from Houston.