And the March Continues

Andrew Mulinge and Congressman John Lewis

Andrew Mulinge and Congressman John Lewis photo courtesy of Andrew Mulinge

Senior Government and Politics major, Andrew Mulinge will be part of the student activist conversation at the Civil War to Civil Rights: The Well-Being of a Nation national symposium on September 6.

On August 24, Andrew and a group of UMD students will also be participating in the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Rally.

Here, Andrew speaks a little about his activism, the Civil Rights Movement and the people who influence him today.

How has the Civil Rights Movement affected you as an activist?

The Civil Rights Movement has left an indelible mark on me as an activist and person. Through my studies at UMD, I was exposed to the Civil Rights Movement from a more contextual perspective. I have been able to apply the spirit of the movement into my everyday activism and activities. The Civil Rights Movement has left an everlasting impression on me, and I use that time period as the standard for how to create change in society. People like Dr. W.E.B Du Bois, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Fred Hampton and Malcolm X are the historical figures who have left the most influential mark on me from the movement and their messages still live within me 50-some years later.

What are some current projects that you are working on?

We are planning a Pan-African Conference for the African Diasporic student organizations on campus in the surrounding universities through my involvement in the W.E.B Du Bois Honor Society. The idea of the conference was influenced by the 1st Pan-African Conference Du Bois organized in Paris in 1919. We wanted to recreate the notion of bringing together the student groups across the African diaspora to discuss how we intend on addressing challenges we face today on campus and around the world.

In addition, we are planning on creating a coalition consisting of six leading organizations in the black community on campus to promote solidarity and efficiency. The idea was inspired by the Civil Rights Big Six consisting of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (SCLC), John Lewis (SNCC), Roy Wilkins (NAACP), A. Philip Randolph (Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Workers), Whitney Young (National Urban League) and James Farmer (CORE). The Big Six played an instrumental role in organizing the March on Washington, as well as being leaders of the entire movement. I thought this model would be excellent at Maryland for addressing issues facing our community on campus as well as utilizing our resources to best serve the campus as a whole.

This summer I also participated in a program for black males called the Institute for Responsible Citizenship. Through my involvement in the program, we had a chance to spend three hours with John Lewis in his office on the Hill. He spoke of his life in the movement, his relationship with Dr. King and much more. It was that experience we had with him that sparked the idea of creating the Big Six at UMD.

How do you feel about participating in the symposium alongside civil rights activists such as Julian Bond, Marian Wright Edelman and Harry Belafonte?

It is a humbling opportunity. Just being alongside leaders of their magnitude puts things into a larger perspective. We need to start thinking of ways to extend our activism into the real world and not just here on campus. I am excited to listen to their stories and perspectives of the Civil Rights Movement and see where I can carry on the fire from the movement into my generation.