The Wake Up Call


The Wake Up Call


The following opinion column and letters to the editor first appeared in The Nubian Message, North Carolina State University's African-American student newspaper, which was first published on November 30, 1992.

The "Wake Up Call" responded to a report that the university administration would eliminate funding for African-American campus organizations. In this editorial, Pettigrew defends the need for black student organizations because they "are a reflection of us." Moreover, the column draws on the ideas of Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) that "education should be synonymous with our involvement and conciousness with all issues that are relevant to our being." For Pettigrew, apathy and not the university administration represents the true enemy as "a mind set that has deteriorated our organizations." 

Moreover, Pettigrew and Kim McNair's follow-up letters cite the collective history and heritage that African-Americans should draw upon as inspiration and motivation for political mobilization on campus. In the view of freshman Kim McNair, "there can't be racial harmony, if we don't first have knowledge of self." Meanwhile, Pettigrew asserts that "the blood, sweat, and tears given by our courageous elders" meant that his generation of black youth should embrace this era as "the time for change" and "the time for action." As a result, for Pettigrew and McNair, the solution for threats and obstacles such as the elimination of African-American campus organizations lay within the black community's mobilization and not in the university bureaucracy and administration.


Harold Pettigrew, Opinions Editor


Harold Pettigrew, "The Wake Up Call," The Nubian Message 6, no. 17 (February 4, 1999), 7. Digitized by the Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.




Madison W. Cates






A lot of you may be wondering what’s next, you have our attention so what are you going to do with it Harold. So, now it’s time to dig deeper. We have recognized that there is a problem with the operation of our student organizations, but now we must go beyond the obvious and realize that there is a deeper problem to deal with than that of student organizations.

In thinking about the organizations, we must never separate them from the us and treat them as a separate entity. Our organizations are reflections of us, being shaped with our actions and moved with our thoughts. If no one has realized yet, the organization’s (eventhough they have been the topic of discussion for the past week) are not at the root of the problem. More so, it’s a mind set.

Right now we view our involvement as a secondary factor to our college education. We all are here to get our college education, no doubt. But what is there outside of academics do we hope to gain? Our commitment to academics should not limit us to the world of academia, leaving us dumbfounded to the issues that are relevant to us outside of our major. This mindset has allowed us to have a narrow scope on the true problems that exists. It’s instrumental that we see our involvement as it connects to the broader scope of community, not just here at N.C. State. Our education should be synonymous with our involvement and consciousness with all issues that are relevant to our being. Education is used as a tool to alleviate the suffering of humanity (from the late Kwame Ture) but if we are not conscious that humanity is suffering then what is the use of our education.

We must now focus on self and work on destroying the mind set that has caused our organizations to function as they have in recent years. Even if your involvement is not in an African American organization, that’s fine but you must understand your connection to the broader base of community. Last week’s article was directed toward involvement in the African Amercian student organizations but not a limitation to. Our involvement should be in all facets of student life including student government, steering committees, and any other non-African American organizations. We have to recognize where the battle is and where it is to be fought. The article last we[ek] was not to make the administration our enemy but to point out that the enemy is within us all, a mind set that has deteriorated our organizations.

We have become too comfortable, not being able to step outside our actions and see what needs to be changed. This comfort has left us deaf to the sound of change and blind to the effects of issues that are relevant to our success. Everything we do must connect us to the broader sense of community.

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Harold Pettigrew, Opinions Editor, “The Wake Up Call,” The State of History, accessed June 30, 2022,