Understanding the Impetus for Modern Student Activism for Justice at an HBCU: A Look at Personal Motivations

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This study examined university students’ motivations for engaging in activism for justice. Of interest is what moved a sample of university youth at a historically Black university to get involved in the Jena Six protest of September 2007 given that cases of injustice have remained fairly commonplace in recent decades for persons of color. To answer this question, a qualitative text analysis of 80 essays that were written by undergraduate students as a requirement for a seat on a bus to the protest was performed. Data were coded initially using etic codes from the literature on reasons for student activism. The findings indicate that for males anger is a significant catalyst for action. In contrast, females described a transformative future orientation for their offspring as motivating them to stand and to march in the interest of justice. Such insights are likely of interest to those leading efforts for social justice.

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