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Black Studies Department Records


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Black Studies Department Records, 1973-1997 | WUA University Archives

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Collection Overview

Title: Black Studies Department Records, 1973-1997Add to your cart.

ID: WUA/01/wua00334

Primary Creator: Black Studies Department - Washington University in St. Louis

Extent: 1.0 Linear Feet

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Black Studies Department Records documents the development of Black Studies Program at Washington University based on one of the principal demands presents in the Black Manifesto position paper issued by the Association of Black Students in 1968. Includes are reviews and progress reports of the Black Studies Program, black student guides, honors and awards information for black students and alumni, chancellor’s roundtables on African-American recruitment, publications, etc.

Collection Historical Note

In December 1968, African American students at Washington University, organized under the name of the Association of Black Students, and acting similarly to their counterparts across the nation in that turbulent year, confronted the administration with a position paper during the take-over of Brookings Hall.  This paper’s list of demands was later expanded as The Black Manifesto which became a kind of bill of rights and expectations for black students at the university.  One of the principal demands was the institution of a Black Studies Program, “which will radically reform our future education.”  The document continues, “We ask for this Black Studies Program because we feel it is not only necessary for our education, but for our very survival.”  Doubtless, for many black students, adjusting to the alien environment of a predominantly white university and the particular pressures, stresses, and humiliations such an adjustment subjected them to, may very much have seem a matter of psychic survival.  What black students was not necessarily to feel less alienated from the whites around them but rather to put their alienation to a political and social purpose that would advance their interests as blacks.  A Black Studies Program for many such students was not only place to study about African-descended peoples but also to protect themselves from “miseducation,” to borrow historian Carter G. Woodson’s term, or from being de-racinated or alienated from their own group for what these students sought was not integration but independence, the sort of specialized independence they felt they needed as young African American adults being forced to operate in a world largely based on white sensibilities.  A Black Studies Program was meant to reassure these students about the core mission of their education: to change the world’s values to bring about the liberation of African-descended peoples from the thralldom of Eurocentric hegemony.  The Black Manifesto was of such importance in the history of black student consciousness at Washington University that new, updated versions of it have been issued in 1978, 1983, and 1998 as repeated calls for action.

The Black Studies was formally established in September 1969 with a part-time director.  Robert L. Williams became the first full-time director when he was appointed on June 15, 1970.  The original faculty included Williams, Ph.D. (Psychology), Jack Kirkland, MSW, (Social Work), Ronald S. Bailey, Ph.D., (Political Science), Curtis Lyle, poet in residence, Tilford Brooks, M.A., (Music), Robert C. Johnson M.A.T. (Education), and Paul Smith, B.D. (Religion).

In 1978, when the Black Studies Program did a lengthy ten-year review, it assessed in separate chapters, how it had changed, in cooperation with others on campus, the culture for black students, faculty, and staff at the university through direct or indirect involvement in the creation of:

Study abroad initiatives to the Caribbean and Africa

The Martin Luther King Symposium (launched in the spring of 1970)

Black Honors and Awards (established in the spring of 1972)

The Fall Black Arts and Sciences Festival (begun in the fall 1972)

The Black Graduate Luncheon (begun in 1970)

The Black Repertory Choir (begun in 1968)

The Black Theater Workshop

African and African-American Studies - About the Program

Administrative Information

Repository: WUA University Archives

Accruals: Accruals are interfiled within the collection.

Access Restrictions: Open

Use Restrictions:

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or spec@wumail.wustl.edu. (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)

Acquisition Source: This material was donated to the University Archives.

Acquisition Method: Accession numbers WUA2015-099 and WUA2016-005.

Separated Materials:

A Critical Review of Black Studies Programs by Alan King Colon, 1980

Racism: A Psychopathology of America by Robert L. Williams and Jack A. Kirkland, 1974

Telecommunications Technology and the Socialization of Black Americans: Issues, Concerns, and Possibilities by Robert C. Johnson III, 1974

Related Materials: See also WUA00049 Black Manifesto Collection

Preferred Citation: [Item description]. From the [collection title, series, box, folder]. University Archives, Washington University in St. Louis.

Processing Information: Processed by Sarah Schnuriger in December 2017.

Finding Aid Revision History: Finding aid created by Sarah Schnuriger in December 2017.

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