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Black Revolution on Campus

Black Revolution on Campus

Martha Biondi
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 366
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  • Book Info
    Black Revolution on Campus
    Book Description:

    The Black Revolution on Campusis the definitive account of an extraordinary but forgotten chapter of the black freedom struggle. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Black students organized hundreds of protests that sparked a period of crackdown, negotiation, and reform that profoundly transformed college life. At stake was the very mission of higher education. Black students demanded that public universities serve their communities; that private universities rethink the mission of elite education; and that black colleges embrace self-determination and resist the threat of integration. Most crucially, black students demanded a role in the definition of scholarly knowledge.Martha Biondi masterfully combines impressive research with a wealth of interviews from participants to tell the story of how students turned the slogan "black power" into a social movement. Vividly demonstrating the critical linkage between the student movement and changes in university culture, Biondi illustrates how victories in establishing Black Studies ultimately produced important intellectual innovations that have had a lasting impact on academic research and university curricula over the past 40 years. This book makes a major contribution to the current debate on Ethnic Studies, access to higher education, and opportunity for all.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95352-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION. The Black Revolution on Campus
    (pp. 1-12)

    “Black young people feel they can change society,” a minister in San Francisco observed in 1969. “Now that’s very important.” Black students want “revolutionary change in the basic institutions in this country,” echoed a young politician. According to students in San Diego, “Racism runs rampant in the educational system, while America, in a pseudohumanitarian stance, proudly proclaims that it is the key to equal opportunity for all.” “This is the hypocrisy,” they declared, that “our generation must now destroy.”¹ This widespread feeling of power and purpose among Black college students, combined with a sense of urgency and context of crisis,...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Moving toward Blackness: The Rise of Black Power on Campus
    (pp. 13-42)

    The explosion of Black student activism in 1968 took many observers by surprise. Earlier in the decade, the violence unleashed by whites on nonviolent protesters in the South riveted a national television audience. Now, television news gave daily coverage to African American college students assertively seeking social change, but the images were often unsettling: violent clashes between Black students and the police in San Francisco; militant Black students disrupting classes in Madison; Black students occupying the computer center in Santa Barbara, the president’s office at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and the entire south campus of City College in Harlem. This...

  6. CHAPTER 2 A Revolution Is Beginning: The Strike at San Francisco State
    (pp. 43-78)

    In November 1968 the Black Student Union (BSU) at San Francisco State College (SFSC or State) called a student strike. For five months the strike rocked the Bay Area, led to nearly eight hundred arrests, galvanized local and national media, and put Governor Ronald Reagan, the Black Panther Party, students, faculty, administrators, and the board of trustees on a collision course. The students wanted to fundamentally redefine higher education. California’s reorganization of its three-tier system of higher education, together with the introduction of the SAT in the mid-1960s, had toughened admissions criteria at the state colleges, leading to a sharp...

  7. CHAPTER 3 A Turbulent Era of Transition: Black Students and a New Chicago
    (pp. 79-113)

    Conflict and confrontation may have characterized the student movement in California, but in the Midwest the movement unfolded in less violent, if still dramatic, form. If San Francisco State showed that a revolutionary conception of Black studies would be difficult to realize, the movement in Chicago demonstrated that it was still possible to achieve a significant transformation of educational institutions. And in a city with a Black political class closely tethered to the machinations of Mayor Richard M. Daley, student protest helped usher in changes that reverberated more broadly in the city’s political, cultural, and institutional life, laying the groundwork...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Brooklyn College Belongs to Us: The Transformation of Higher Education in New York City
    (pp. 114-141)

    Black student activism exploded in the spring of 1969. It was the highwater mark of the Black student movement, with militant actions and mass confrontations at campuses across the country, most notably at the University of California, Berkeley; Cornell University; Harvard University; Rutgers University; and Howard University. Coinciding with the community-control-of-public-schools movement, the Black student movement in New York City aimed to redefine the relationship between universities and Black communities. Like students in San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities, students in New York wanted some form of open admissions in public institutions of higher education. But as elsewhere, the struggle...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Toward a Black University: Radicalism, Repression, and Reform at Historically Black Colleges
    (pp. 142-173)

    Black student protest at white colleges in the North and West garnered extensive mainstream media coverage, yet most Black collegians in the late 1960s still attended historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and students on these campuses, too, were up in arms. But journalists gave these struggles scant attention, and historians have given them even less. If the goal of the civil rights movement was to open the doors of white universities to more Black students and faculty, why did Black colleges become such volatile sites of struggle? As chapter I illustrates, part of the answer lies in the shift...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Counterrevolution on Campus: Why Was Black Studies So Controversial?
    (pp. 174-210)

    The incorporation of Black studies in American higher education was a major goal of the Black student movement, but as we have seen from San Francisco State College, City College of New York, Northwestern University, and many other campuses, the promise to implement it was typically followed by another period of struggle. Whether it was because of hostility, clashing visions, budget cuts, indifference, or other challenges, the effort to institutionalize Black studies was long and difficult. To the extent that there was a “black revolution on campus,” it was followed, in many instances, by a “counterrevolution,” a determined effort to...

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Black Revolution Off-Campus
    (pp. 211-240)

    The Black student and Black studies movements were enormously influential on American campuses, but to what extent did they affect Black communities and the broader American society? The rhetoric of these movements was suffused with promises to bridge the gap between town and gown, but did their leaders follow through on these commitments? The belief that knowledge of African and African American history and culture would empower Black people and Black communities had gained popularity in the late 1960s and shaped many activist initiatives. Off-campus initiatives demonstrated the popularity of the idea that Black-controlled education, such as television documentaries, community-based...

  12. CHAPTER 8 What Happened to Black Studies?
    (pp. 241-267)

    After the creation of African American studies units, educators engaged in fierce debates about the field’s academic mission and definition. The stakes were high, since in the eyes of many, legitimacy, status, and recognition in the academy hung in the balance. Many critics, both internal and external to Black studies, criticized it on two interrelated grounds: they claimed that it lacked curricular coherence, and that by not having a single methodology it failed to meet the definition of a discipline. As a result, many educators in the early Black studies movement pursued a two-pronged quest: for a standardized curriculum and...

  13. CONCLUSION. Reflections on the Movement and Its Legacy
    (pp. 268-278)

    The Black liberation movement did not unravel after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., but grew and irrevocably changed the landscape of American higher education. The Black student and Black studies movements were forceful continuations of the overall Black freedom struggle, yet they have been comparatively forgotten or severed from the longer civil rights narrative. Why the amnesia? Perhaps it is not surprising that challenges to the status quo are quickly buried or discredited in popular narratives. Indeed, the Black student movement grew to encompass wide-ranging critiques of American society—from militarism to racial oppression, and it united a...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 279-318)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 319-324)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 325-328)
  17. Photo Credits
    (pp. 329-330)
  18. Index
    (pp. 331-356)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 357-357)