We Are Worth Fighting For: A History of the Howard University Student Protest of 1989

Regular price $ 16.95

by Joshua C. Myers

New York University Press

4/1/2022, paperback

SKU: 9781479816767


The Howard University protests from the perspective and worldview of its participants.

We Are Worth Fighting For is the first history of the 1989 Howard University protest. The three-day occupation of the university's Administration Building was a continuation of the student movements of the sixties and a unique challenge to the politics of the eighties. Upset at the university's appointment of the Republican strategist Lee Atwater to the Board of Trustees, students forced the issue by shutting down the operations of the university. The protest, inspired in part by the emergence of "conscious" hip hop, helped to build support for the idea of student governance and drew upon a resurgent black nationalist ethos.

At the center of this story is a student organization known as Black Nia F.O.R.C.E. Co-founded by Ras Baraka, the group was at the forefront of organizing the student mobilization at Howard during the spring of 1989 and thereafter. We Are Worth Fighting For explores how black student activists--young men and women-- helped shape and resist the rightward shift and neoliberal foundations of American politics. This history adds to the literature on Black campus activism, Black Power studies, and the emerging histories of African American life in the 1980s.


"We Are Worth Fighting For reminds us of the insurgency of Black college students in the late 1980s and early 1990s that inspired a generation. Thoroughly researched and well constructed, this book illuminates how Howard students inspired the political and cultural rebellion of the time and shines light on this period of the Black freedom struggle."--Akinyele Umoja, author of We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement

"This riveting, exceptionally well-written book is a major contribution to Black Power historiography and the history of Black student activism. Featuring appearances by future mayors of Newark and Atlanta and pioneers of hip hop, this study holds important lessons for today."--Gerald Horne, author of The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism

"We Are Worth Fighting For is a book about the problematics of, and is a writing against, the terms of American order that elaborates their relation to Black radicalism. The 1989 student occupation at Howard is part of the genealogy, the tradition, of Black radical struggle. It is necessary and urgent for understanding that which American order responds to, the ongoing nature of Black radical struggle. It is a radicalism worth cultivating, tending to, and fighting for."--Ashon Crawley, author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility

"Like the students whose stories populate its pages, We Are Worth Fighting For provides a challenge. It challenges conventional narratives about Howard. It challenges understandings of Black student protest in the '80s. And it challenges the reader to wrestle with the uses and meaning of history. Cover to cover, this book reflects the state of Black Studies--a discipline that has come of age."--Jonathan Fenderson, author of Building the Black Arts Movement: Hoyt Fuller and the Cultural Politics of the 1960s

About the Author:

Joshua C. Myers teaches Africana Studies in the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University. He serves on the editorial board of The Compass and is editor of A Gathering Together: Literary Journal.