At 1 a.m. on February 18th, 1970, black students at Amherst College took over and occupied four key campus buildings. They were not alone. From the late sixties to early seventies, black students across the nation organized protests, demonstrations, and sit-ins at their colleges and universities, disrupting the normalcy of campus life because they believed that this state of normalcy should be reconsidered as a state of emergency, one that urgently needed to be changed. And indeed, the reforms that came out of the black student movement were to reshape the nature of American higher education.
At Amherst, this protest movement instigated such changes as the creation of the Black Studies Department, increase in black student admissions, the unprecedented hiring of black administrators and faculty members, and the founding of a Black Culture Center on campus. Using articles from The Amherst Student, this timeline attempts to outline the sequence of events surrounding the black student protest movement at Amherst College from 1966 to 1971.
Throughout these years, black students have persistently protested for improvement in recruitment and financial aid for black students, the creation and maintenance of a Black Culture Center, the establishment of summer enrichment programs for disadvantaged students, and the creation of a Black Studies Department. While the timeline above is a summary of the main developments that led to reform, the timelines below show in detail the developments behind each of these reforms. These timelines cover the period from 1966 to 1971, but the struggle did not stop here. While the focus of the College moved on to other issues such as co-education, war protest, and academic policies, black students continued to fight for the preservation and improvement of these reforms.
Project by Jennifer Lee ’17E