Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

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

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

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

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper examines the Black Campus Movement at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), and thus explores Black student activism at LMU from 1968 to 1978 revealing how the climate and influence of Black Power energized and mobilized Black students to navigate and negotiate the university in their quest to demand respect, as well as their request for the social and academic resources they needed to maximize their college experience. The paper argues that the creation of the Black Student Union (BSU), the Office of Black Student Services (OBSS), and the African American Studies Department (AFAM) institutionalized the Black Campus Movement at LMU. Archival research indicates that unfavorable and hostile conditions on campus led to the formation of the BSU, which became a central Black student organizing body. Results also illustrate the rigidity of the university begot increasingly aggressive responses from the BSU. However, when the university responded respectfully to Black students illustrating the institutional sincerity about their concerns, the students responded in kind, although trying to attain and maintain as much as institutional power as possible.

Introduction

This paper examines the experiences of Black students at Loyola Marymount University1 (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 Services2 (OBSS), and African American Studies3 in 1970.

Ibram Rogers defines the Black Campus Movement as the "struggle among [BJlack student nationalists at historically white and [BJlack 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. …

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