Frank Emspak Oral History


This is an interview with Frank Emspak, a former graduate student at UW–Madison who was also involved in graduate student organizations and the Black Student Strike. In part one, Emspak shares his experience fighting housing discrimination in Madison and his understandings of how graduate student organizations and labor organizations fought for social justice issues. The second part deals specifically with Emspak‘s experience as a TA during the Black Student Strike and his involvement and understanding of how the strike unfolded and its aftermath. Additional recordings with Emspak are available in the UW-Madison Archives oral history collection.

Audio File:

Click Here to listen to segment one (4 mins).

Click Here to listen to segment two (10 mins).

Click Here to listen to both segments (14 mins).

Click Here to view the interview transcript.

Discussion Questions:

What does this oral history reveal about being a member of both the UW and larger Madison community?

How does this oral history connect with broader histories of discrimination and resistance in both higher education and the United States?

What are the advantages and limitations of using oral histories? What challenges arise when selecting participants, generating questions, and sharing only certain segments of people’s stories?

How did Emspak demonstrate graduate student organizations’ ability to fight for expanded rights in both Madison and the broader US?

What tension arose throughout Emspak’s interview? Think about the divergent objectives of different groups such as university professors/officials, Black student organizations, white student organizations, and other graduate and labor organizations through the 1960s and their ability to implement change.