Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Reviewing the Revolt: Moving toward a Historiography of the Black Campus Movement

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Reviewing the Revolt: Moving toward a Historiography of the Black Campus Movement

Article excerpt

Stefan Bradley, Harlem Versus Columbia: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s, (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2012)

Wayne Glasker, Black Students in the Ivory Tower: African American Activism at the University of Pennsylvania, 1967-1990, (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002)

Ibram X. Kendi (formerly Ibram H. Rogers), The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and he Radical Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

Joy Ann Williamson, Black Power on Campus: The University of Illinois, 1965-1975, (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2003)

This year the Department of Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville (UL) celebrates its fortieth year of existence, which if one understands the history of the development of Black Studies programs and departments, is no small feat. Founded in 1973 as a response to the "pressure brought by black students and others who protested the distorted and Eurocentric social studies and humanities curriculum they [African American students] encountered" at the University of Louisville, the Department of Pan-African Studies (PAS) today stands as one of only twelve Black Studies programs in the nation to offer the doctoral degree in the discipline. (1) Indeed, like many of its contemporaries, Louisville's PAS Department was born out of the unrest of the what scholar Ibram X. Kendi (formerly Ibram H. Rogers) defines as the "Black Campus Movement" (BCM) that occurred "during the height of the black power movement." (2)

Locally, the push by campus and community activists for Black Studies courses that eventually led to the development and the institution of the Pan-African Studies Department at the University of Louisville, was led in part by student leader J. Blaine Hudson who later went on to earn a doctorate, and become chair of Louisville's Pan-African Studies Department. He was instrumental in ushering the department through the period of transition from fledgling to one of the strongest Black Studies departments in the nation. Hudson went on to eventually serve as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the university, solidifying his transition from student agitator to capable administrator. In her study of the civil rights movement in Louisville, Kentucky, historian Tracy K'Meyer characterizes the University of Louisville's black student and campus movement as a truly grassroots effort spearheaded by students, like Hudson, who viewed their campus struggle as a larger part of the black revolution and the national student movement. (3)

Despite its importance and centrality in the "reconstitution of higher education," Kendi contends that the Black Campus Movement, which is a significant and in his estimation arguably the most important component of the Black Power movement, has been largely understudied and marginalized. (4) Specifically, he argues that:

"The BCM should make up at least a chapter of any topically arranged examination, chronological narrative or study of the Black Power Movement, and (if applicable) an analysis of any person, organization or event of the Black Power Movement should show the full extent of that person, organization or event's relationship to the BCM." (5)

Kendi defines the "Black Campus Movement," as the battle black students and Black Student Unions instigated on college campuses throughout the nation in the late 1960s and 1970s in their efforts to transformation the American higher educational system. Many Black Power activists and icons, Kendi contends, "were groomed in the campus movements around the country," and thus this connection warrants closer study and scrutiny of the Black Campus Movement than has been reflected in the larger body of literature that examines the black power movement to this date. (6)

However, the Black Power Movement (BPM) itself has been vastly neglected until recently, if not altogether ignored in the historical record. …

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