by Zachary Husser
The “link” story about what happened during the April, 1968 Student Protest on the Campus of Columbia University is a view through the eyes of several White Folk who watched what was going on as well as some who participated in what White Students did! I can’t validate anything the writer states because I was organizing with other Black Students in Hamilton Hall against the Vietnam War, the building of a Private Gym in the very Public Morningside Park, the mistreatment of Black Students on Campus in all the Racial Ways One Could think, the lack of any Black History Courses, the Lack of Black Faculty, and the lack of Black Students in a fair proportion to the thousands of Students studying at the University. We even demanded that more Black Employees be hired. These are some of the demands that I remember, but I know other issues were discussed with the Columbia University Administration. We Black Students had reached the same point as the University of Missouri Football Players and We weren’t going to take anymore Bull Shit from Racist on Columbia’s Campus.
As for negotiations that left Black Students in Hamilton Hall, that was resolved because White Students were destroying property in the building and throwing desk and other things out of windows. That thug action didn’t represent what WE Black Students took over Hamilton Hall to resolve with the University Administration. WE asked/demanded that White Students “Leave” Hamilton Hall and take over other buildings so they could protest in the manner that met their goals. That was the Negotiation if you want to call it that. You see, none of the white students had to deal with harassment from dorm security as well as White Supremacist everyday You walked the Campus. Many Black Students were assaulted by these White Skin Heads who were students on Campus. Going to the President’s Administration and reporting Our Grievances fell on deaf ears. What we saw first hand was that the Columbia University Administration as well as the University President, didn’t believe nor care about Black Students being “Harassed and Assaulted.” If the University Administration believed Our Grievances some Movement would have taken place to resolve the issues. Nothing was done to save Black Students from Assaults on Campus, Racist Faculty giving Black Students low grades even though comparing Blue Book answers to exams showed Black Students with better and more competent conclusions. We Black Students were catching hell in Harlem and that didn’t set Well with Us.
This lack of doing anything to assist Black Students on Campus led Us to build a coalition with the local politicians and the families they represented in Harlem. I remember City Councilman Fred Samuels, Basil Paterson, and Percy Sutton who came to our defense. Not only did those three Politicians come to help Us as we held Hamilton Hall, the three directed several Black Attorneys to represent Us on pending court cases. Connecting with the Black Community represented by the Politicians I previously mentioned was the BEST thing We Black Students did during the entire April, 1968 Black Student Protest to get Our Grievances resolved.
A highlight moment took place on one of those April Days when thousands of High School Students swarmed H. Rap Brown and Stokley Carmichael past NYC Police into the entrance of Hamilton Hall. We had a positive talk with two of the great young activist of Our Day. I’ll always remember how those High School Students bum rushed through the police with Mr. Brown and Mr. Carmichael. That was something to see. International attention came to Our Protest as a result of that afternoon. Most Black Families and College Students around the World were watching TV, reading newspapers, and just staying tuned to see how We Black Students at Columbia University conducted ourselves. We made all interested parties proud of how we took care of Our Business!
In concluding, but not finishing Our Story, WE didn’t get busted up and knocked down by Police as you see in the pictures that show White Students bleeding. Our Protest was orderly and we had legal representation speak with the Police that Columbia University’s President Invited on Campus. A lot of White Columbia Students were injured because of that move by President Grayson Kirk. After the dust cleared, Grayson Kirk and a few other Administrators were Fired just like the President of the University of Missouri in the recent Black Student grievances that were not believed by the Administration. The Decade has changed, but We still have White Supremacist patrolling and guiding major White Universities. The Missouri Football Players are now the “Catalyst” for a New Movement by Black Students speaking out about the Racist treatment they’re getting on many Campuses around the United States of America. I’m not surprised because when You don’t deal with the truth, it comes back in it’s ugly form again and again! Maybe, just maybe, we’ll listen to what Black Students are saying and the predominantly White University will work to resolve these Racial Issues. It takes faith and belief that Black Folk are the equal to any folk walking on this planet and we’ll be Change Agents together!
In the Interest of Telling Our Story,
Brother Zachary C. Husser, National Communication Advisor
Fathers in Education Campaign, Inc.
Note: How do I know so much about the Columbia University 1968 Black Student Take Over of Hamilton Hall? I was a Student at the University and I was in Hamilton Hall the entire time of the building takeover!