Professor: Social change comes from the streets, not elections

The excitement over Barack ObamaâÄôs election victory is still simmering throughout campus, and Friday the African American Studies department is hosting a conference so students can learn how to initiate the type of social change the new president-elect has promised. âÄúMany people in the African American community, myself included, never thought we would see an African American president in our lifetime,âÄù Walt Jacobs, director of African American Studies and African Studies said. âÄúWeâÄôre really excited about the possibilities that this opened up.âÄù The conference will also highlight the 40th anniversary of the department, which started after demonstrators stormed Morrill Hall and demanded an African American studies program. While the students were storming Morrill Hall, August Nimtz political science professor was participating in demonstrations across the country. Despite his participation in the Civil Rights movement and being a strong proponent of social change, Nimtz is not an Obama supporter. The night after the election, Nimtz stood before a packed Blegen lecture hall and attempted to calm his studentsâÄô enthusiasm over the nationâÄôs first black president, who he didnâÄôt vote for. People are too caught up in the excitement spurred by the promises of social change Obama has made, Nimtz said. âÄúThereâÄôs a lot of wishful thinking when it comes to Obama,âÄù he said. Obama is not an agent of change, but rather a beneficiary of social change, which took off during the Civil Rights Movement, Nimtz said. Nimtz was born in Louisiana and participated in protests in New Orleans and Washington, D.C. While at the nationâÄôs capitol he saw Martin Luther King Jr. speak, and in the spring of 1964 he organized a demonstration to free Nelson Mandela . âÄúSome of the people from the Nazi groups came with a counter demonstration, but we were more boisterous,âÄù Nimtz said. Obama is a mainstream capitalist politician and will only push for social changes if his hand is forced by the public, Nimtz said. âÄúThe ruling class will see the light when it feels the heat,âÄù he said. Members of the Black Student Union have an opposing view of ObamaâÄôs election. The union spent October gearing up for the election and encouraging people to vote, advertising sophomore and group member Jokondo Jokondo said. He said this was the first time he actually cared about an election. âÄúIt was just great to get that feeling that we were all together on this and we were a part of it,âÄù Jokondo said. The unionâÄôs faculty advisor, Crystal Flint-Hollomen , watched ObamaâÄôs victory speech with her two young children. âÄúNow if they were to say they wanted to be president of the United States when they grow up, it could be a reality,âÄù Flint-Holloman said.