Black Student Strike and Black Power Movement on Campus

Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to understand why student protests movements began occurring in the 1960s and 1970s and what the goals of these movements were.

Students will be able to understand what the objectives of these movements were and how different groups went about achieving their goals.

Students will be able to evaluate the successes of these movements and the impediments/challenges that they faced.

Sources and Readings

Recommended Primary Sources:

University Arrest Records 1969-1970: View Report Here

These are the arrest records and expulsion recommendations from January 1969 through February 1970, which includes many students who participated in the 1969 Strike. In the arrest records, there’s information about why the students in question were arrested and the recommended discipline for the students.

Thirteen Demands: Read Demands Here

These were the thirteen demands that the Black student organization made.

Oral History with John Felder: Listen to Interview Here

Felder recalls his experiences with student organizations, the drafting of the thirteen demands, and how they were voted upon. He also recalls the ongoing meetings to determine strategy, connections with predominantly white student protest groups and the student body, and how he was worried about threats and acts of violence against him.

Recommended Readings:

Selected Chapters from Martha Bondi, The Black Revolution on Campus. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).  Read Book Here 

USA Today article “War protests, Black Panther Party: Yale alums reflect on Black student movement of 1970s.” By Constance Royster and Kurt Schmoke. Read Article Here

Additional Primary Sources:

Daily Cardinal Articles about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Speeches on Campus: Read Article Here

These two articles from the Daily Cardinal highlight Martin Luther King Jr’s speech on campus about nonviolence to promote civil rights and there is also an advertisement for a talk on campus by Malcolm X, which was originally canceled because of poor weather.

The establishment of the Thiede Committee: Read Articles Here

A series of three articles that outline the universities’ decision to establish a 14-member committee to study race relations on campus in 1968, which becomes known as the Thiede Committee.

“Malcolm X Campus Visit Flyer” and Cancelation Article: View Flyer Here & Read Article Here 

This is a hand drawn flyer advertising that Malcolm X was planning to come give a talk at UW–Madison’s campus. The program was presented by the student council on civil rights, but Malcolm X was unable to make the trip because of the weather in Chicago. These sources highlight that students at UW were interested in engaging with the national Black power movement.

Additional/Alternative Readings:

Chapters 3-4 of Donna Murch, Living For The City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010). Read Book Here

Discussion and Questions

Primary Source Discussion Questions

University Arrest Records

  • How did the charges and reprimands for students protesting during the Black student strike differ?
  • Why do you think some students were recommended for expulsion?
  • What do you notice in terms of the suggested reprimands for students “peacefully” versus “militantly” protesting? Why do you think that is the case?

Thirteen Demands

  •       Why would students ask for these specific provisions?
  •       What are some of the local, national, and international contexts that helps explain why students made these demands?
  •       What were some challenges or obstacles the strikers faced? Why?

Reading Discussion Questions

  • Bondi says that during the early to late 1960s there was a shift between sit in’s and “non-violent” protests, to more militant protests. Why did this shift occur?
  • How were college students at the center of the Black power movement in the late 1960s?
  • What are some similarities and differences between Bondi’s assessments of the Black power movement on campuses and student action at UW–Madison?

Discussion Norms: These are based on Walter Parker, Teaching Democracy: Unity and Diversity in Public Life, 138-9

  •       Do not raise hands
  •       Address one another, not the discussion leader
  •       Invite others into the conversation
  •       Cite and/or reference the texts to support your texts
  •       Base response in the reading/sources
  •       Listen to and build on others’ comments
  •       Critically Agree and Disagree

For more ideas about structuring discussion and asking good questions, see The Discussion Project

Source Citations

University Arrest Records 1969-1970: “Madison Campus Student Suspension & Expulsion Cases – Jan. 1969 to Feb. 1970,” Box 4, “Committee on Student Conduct Appeals & Student Conduct Hearings, 1968-1969” Folder, Chancellor’s Office Records – 1964-1971 – Edwin Young Files, UW–Madison Archives, UW–Madison Libraries.

Thirteen Demands: “Thirteen Needs Explained,” Box 13, Folder 1, Afro-American & Race Relations Files, UW–Madison Archives, UW–Madison Libraries.

Oral History with John Felder: Felder, John. “Oral History Interview with John Felder,” interview by Edward Frame, in Madison, WI. Transcript. UW–Madison Archives, UW–Madison Libraries

Daily Cardinal Articles about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Speeches on Campus: John Gruber, “King Says Non-Violence Key to Civil Rights,” Daily Cardinal, March 31, 1962, UW–Madison Archives, UW–Madison Libraries.

The establishment of the Thiede Committee: Newspaper clippings on the formation of the Theide Committee, University General Milwaukee Journal Clippings, Box 1 and 2, “Admission-Discrimination” Folder, 1922-1977, UW–Madison Archives, UW–Madison Libraries.

“Malcolm X Campus Visit Flyer”: Malcom X Campus Visit Flyer, Student Life Organizations Collection, Political and Social Action Articles, Clippings, and Broadsides, 1968-1972, Series 20/3/2/2, Box 4, UW–Madison Archives, UW–Madison Libraries.

Cancelation Article: “Snow Cancels Malcom X Talk,” Daily Cardinal (Madison, WI), February 22, 1962, UW–Madison Archives, UW–Madison Libraries.