Video footage recorded at a renowned historically Black college in Atlanta purports to show a student removing an Israel flag that was hanging in a campus chapel before being publicly reprimanded by a professor for the apparent act of protest.
The viral incident at Morehouse College came at a time when young Black people, in particular, have increasingly expressed solidarity with Palestinian people during what critics say is an Israeli-led “genocide” in Gaza.
Several videos were posted Thursday to X, formerly Twitter, that showed the unidentified student on an upper level of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel clutching to an Israeli flag while walking toward an exit, according to social media posts.
A speaker addressing the students in the auditorium setting could be heard in the background as the student walked away from the person recording, flag in hand.
A thread of social media posts from an account called “4quest” shared a recap of what it said “happened in the MLK Jr. Chapel at Morehouse College” on Thursday.
According to 4quest, after the unidentified student removed the Israeli flag from the chapel at Morehouse, “Another student followed him and returned to the auditorium holding the flag.”
4quest added that “Professor Illya Davis “[publicly] admonished the protestor and announced that a crime had been committed.”
4quest went on to claim that Morehouse campus police “detained the student who removed the Israeli flag.”
A request for comment sent Friday by NewsOne to Morehouse was not immediately returned.
The removal of the Israeli flag happened during what’s called the “crown forum,” a school tradition since the 19th century that is also a for-credit course requiring mandatory attendance in order to participate in a graduation ceremony.
Notably, Morehouse says on its website that the crown forum provides a space with “special attention given to the articulation of and exposure to social justice.” The crown forum description specifically refers to “the demand of students to understand their responsibility with respect to servant leadership and a global citizenry.”
After the videos and social media posts were widely shared, a chorus of questions arose asking why Morehouse, a historically Black college for men, would fly the flag of a state that faces credible accusations of genocide against a racial and ethnic minority in Palestinians.
“Why is the Israel flag hanging at Morehouse?”
It was in that context that the following question was asked on social media: “Why is the Israel flag hanging at Morehouse?”
A separate social media post offered a more nuanced opinion: “This moment is revealing how the same institutions that was [sic] founded on struggle and dreams of Black liberation have long lost their way and are more interested in aligning with the white establishment.”
In response to the viral flag-removing incident, the Atlanta University Center (AUC) – of which Morehouse is a member – chapter of the Students For Justice In Palestine (SJP) organization started an online petition on Friday to “urge the Atlanta University Center Consortium to publicly express its solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemn any form of human rights violation occurring in Israel and occupied Palestine.”
The AUC’s SJP chapter has also released a public letter calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza among other demands.
“Our SJP has a rich history of solidarity and support for global struggles for liberation: Black and Palestinian liberation are intrinsically linked, and our central belief is that the fight for freedom continues until there is true liberation for all people,” the letter says in part.
In the week following the Hamas-led attack in Israel in October, Morehouse released a statement calling for peace that referenced “immeasurable suffering for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
HBCUs and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
A closer look at the facts reveals that the HBCU community has long rallied behind both Palestinians as well as Israelis in what is a complicated history.
Howard University’s student-run newspaper the Hilltop reminded readers in October how HBCUs “became a refuge for Jewish professors and scholars seeking opportunities free of discrimination in the 1930s,” well before the state of Israel was created in 1948.
A former Morehouse president traveled to Israel in 2015 to meet “with leaders in higher education, government and business,” according to the Atlanta Jewish Times. John Silvanus Wilson Jr., who had been appointed by then-President Barack Obama to lead the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, compared Israelis to people within the Morehouse community.
“They’re not focused on the past and a grievance narrative,” Wilson, who was the Morehouse president from 2013-2017, said at the time about his interaction with Israelis during the trip. “They’re focused on the future and a kind of agency narrative — they have agency as players to create the future rather than being aggrieved by the past. At Morehouse College, we see ourselves as a powerful institution bent on creating the future, and when we do that, we will correct the past.”
With that said, HBCU students like the one shown on video at Morehouse have been among the most vocal young people protesting against Israel’s campaign of terror in Gaza, which has killed tens of thousands of innocent people, including women and children, in military action that is supposed to be targeting the Hamas militant group.
That is particularly true of Morehouse’s sister school, Spelman College, an all-women’s HBCU with students who the 19th News reported “feel a connection to the racial, economic and gender injustices they say Palestinians face.”
Activist and scholar Nyle Fort previously explained in an interview with NewsOne why he said Black Americans in particular should stand in solidarity with Palestinians.
Fort pointed to how “African-descendant people have a long tradition of standing on the side of the oppressed,” referring to besieged Palestinians in Gaza.
“Black people, who’ve been on the underside of American democracy, who have precisely known what democracy is because we know what democracy is not … we know that every life is precious,” Fort concluded. “So as we learn more and more about the political situation, let’s never lose sight of what this is really about: It’s about defending, protecting, affirming the beauty and the humanity of Palestinian people and of all people.”
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Morehouse Student Removes Israel Flag From Campus Chapel In Viral Video was originally published on newsone.com
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