Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Power, Black Students, and the Institutionalizing of Change: Loyola Marymount University, 1968-1978

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Power, Black Students, and the Institutionalizing of Change: Loyola Marymount University, 1968-1978

Article excerpt

Introduction

This paper examines the experiences of Black students at Loyola Marymount University (1) (LMU). LMU is a small private Catholic university rooted in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions located in West Los Angeles. The Black Campus Movement at LMU lasted from 1968 through 1978, as part of a larger Black Student Movement. These ten years are pivotal in the Black student experience at LMU, because the energy Black Power brought to LMU's campus contributed to the institutionalization of change. This paper is concerned with how the students were able to develop goals, sustain the movement, and adjust their strategy as needed. The students were effective at renegotiating the relationship with the university in such a way as to elicit a response to the critical issues they were facing such as the need for human respect and dignity, increased Black student enrollment, increased financial resources, and a Black presence in the curriculum. Ultimately, the Black Campus Movement at LMU institutionalized the Black Students' Union (BSU) in 1968, Office of Black Student Services (2) (OBSS), and African American Studies (3) in 1970.

Ibram Rogers defines the Black Campus Movement as the "struggle among [B]lack student nationalists at historically white and [B]lack institutions to reconstitute higher education." (4) The Black Campus Movement focuses specifically on Black student activism on college and university campuses during the overlapping Black Power Movement and Black Student Movement. LMU's Department of Archives and Special Collections Library provided much of the material for this study. This archival investigation establishes that the BSU, OBSS, and AFAM are the institutional legacies and manifestations of the victories institutionalized do to the success of the Black Camps Movement at LMU.

The BSU, OBSS, and AFAM are movement- organizations. This refers to "the idea that movements can become institutionalized in the form of a movement- organization that acts as a watchdog, lobby, or advocacy group on behalf of the issues of concern to the movement in question". (5) This paper will draw upon Wayne Glasker's use of Mayer Zald and Roberta Ash's concept of "movement- organization" in his 2002 study of Black student activism at the University of Pennsylvania from 1967- 1990. Zald and Ash argue social movements manifest themselves through social organizations, and the movement becomes institutionalized through the organization. This has resulted in the term movement- organization. (6) Like Glasker, this text refers to the establishment of the BSU, OBSS, and AFAM as movement organizations. The Black Campus Movement gave birth to these campus entities to serve Black students interests within the university. Black students' at LMU were empowered through Black Power rhetoric and mobilized through the BSU.

In 1967, Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton published Black Power: The Politics of Liberation. This popular and widely read book stated, "The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise: Before a group can enter an open society, it must first close ranks." (7) Ture and Hamilton advocated for Black solidarity and an ideology that would empower and improve the quality of life for the masses of Black people, and change the power dynamic of the nation. Black Power "was an affirmation of [B]lack people's right to self-determination, as well as full citizenship and access to resources by [W]hites." (8) Black Power then was a struggle towards having the personhood and peoplehood of Black's valued and respected. It is worth quoting Ogbar at length here stating,

      Black Power was an organic response to the limitations of rigid
   [B]lack nationalism and the civil rights movement. It embraced the
   notion that [B]lack people in the United States deserved access to
   resources, employment, housing, and equal protection under the law,
   just as [W]hites did. It did not forfeit citizenship rights, as did
   [B]lack nationalists. … 
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