The Rise and Fall of “Ethnic Centers” at UW–Madison (1968–1974)

In October of 1968, an Afro-American and Race Relations Center opened at 929 University Avenue. Its mission was to “encourage Afro-American studies,” a new field at the time, and to sponsor events, such as “lectures, black theatre productions, art exhibits, [and] conferences on Afro-American art and culture.” The center quickly became a source of pride for students and, among administrators, proof that the Madison campus supported “programs of interest and relevance to Afro-Americans.” Less than five years later, however, on August 8, 1973, campus officials announced that the center would close, permanently.