If recognizing the 20-year anniversary of the notorious Black List incident needs any justification, look no further than some of the unfortunate anonymous comments on The Daily Star’s popular website that accompanied an Aug. 25 story announcing today’s events at SUNY Oneonta.
“Yes, let’s all gather round and beat the dead horse.”
“Why are black leaders diverting attention from the extremely high crime rates in its own society by bringing up events from twenty years ago? Is it easier just to blame everything on ‘whitey,’ rather than work on an actual solution?”
“I am thinking... we know what occurred was wrong and violated the rights of many students. However, it happened 20 years ago. There are numerous issues occurring today that would be great to spend a day educating our youth on — including Fracking, State of the Educational system, etc.”
“Wonder if Al Sharpton will be presenting it??? Why do they keep dragging this non-sense up, anyway???”
Well, for one thing, the Black List was anything but nonsense. For another, let’s remember this admonition from philosopher George Santayana: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The Black List incident occurred Sept. 4, 1992, when state police investigating an alleged crime asked the State University College at Oneonta for a list of all its black students. To its shame, the college complied. The police then went on to stop and interview black people of every age, description and gender.
To its great credit, today’s SUNY Oneonta administration has chosen not to ignore the anniversary. Rather, it has chosen to use it as a valuable learning tool for our community.
Culminating daylong events, there will be a speech by Cornel West, a professor of African-American studies at Princeton and of religious philosophy and Christian studies at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. West, who has described himself as a “non-Marxist socialist,” will speak at 7 p.m. in the Dewar Arena of Alumni Field House at SUNY Oneonta.
His appearance for the college’s “Beyond the List: A Teach-in: Remembrance and Reconciliation” program, was moved from the ballroom at the Hunt College Union ballroom to accommodate a heavy demand for tickets.
“We’re delighted by the response to this event,” said Colleen Brannan, senior assistant to the president and a member of the organizing committee.
We are delighted, too. While we hope those comments on our website do not reflect the majority opinion of local residents, they do indicate that there is much educating still to be done about how an abuse of power and responsibility can lead to making a whole group of people into second-class citizens.
We encourage everyone to attend today’s events.