"This Is Harlem Heights": Black Student Power and the 1968 Columbia University Rebellion

By Bradley, Stefan | Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, January 2008 | Go to article overview

"This Is Harlem Heights": Black Student Power and the 1968 Columbia University Rebellion


Bradley, Stefan, Afro-Americans in New York Life and History


INTRODUCTION

This is an account of the forces of race and power and how students and community members used their race to gain power from a white American institution. More specifically, this is a story about black students on the campus of Columbia University in the City of New York allying themselves with local black politicians as well as black working class and poor residents from Harlem, the black enclave just adjacent to the school. Taking place on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia, this tale's primary theme deals with the achievement of Black Power, which, in the late 1960s, was the goal of many young African Americans across the nation.

In essence, the second generation of the black bourgeoisie that sociologist E. Franklin Frazier described in his classic piece, Black Bourgeoisie, met with what may be called the "black proletariat." (2) Attempting to move away from the trappings of Frazier's first generation of black bourgeoisie members, black students (or members of the intelligentsia), who attended an Ivy League school, employed what this historian refers to as "Black Student Power." (3) The practice of Black Student Power included (but was not exclusive to) the use of the philosophies and strategies of Black Power to force predominantly white universities to capitulate to a variety of demands.

According to Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) and Charles V. Hamilton, authors of Black Power, the achievement of Black Power for black people meant going through the processes of "self definition" and "political modernization." (4) In order to attain self-definition, black people would have to take pride in their blackness and take ownership of the issues that confronted the race. In an effort to define themselves, some black organizations in the late 1960s purged their ranks of white members and leaders, leaving black people to decide on black matters.

The process of political modernization involved three steps: "(1) questioning old values and institutions of society; (2) searching for new and different forms of political structure to solve political and economic problems; and (3) broadening the base of political participation to include more people in the decision-making process." (5) Indeed, in 1968, black students questioned white institutions and made an attempt to keep institutions of higher education from inhibiting the economic and political rights of black people. Furthermore, at places like Columbia, black students sought to give more representation and power to those whom white American institutions had previously used and neglected.

On American college campuses, some of the more popular demands of those protesters who applied the principles of Black Student Power typically involved increases in the number of black students and faculty members on campus, black studies courses and programs, black culture centers, and in the case of Columbia's protesting black students, respect and power for the neighboring black community. (6) The ultimate goal of Black Student Power was the cessation of the institutional racism that schools, colleges, and universities perpetuated as white institutions in America. In the late 1960s, black protesters like those on Columbia's campus used their status as students as a means to advance the Black Freedom struggle.

The study of black student protesters and Black Power is in no way new. Clayborne Carson, in his coverage of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), did quite well to denote the changing philosophies of black college activists in the 1960s. (7) Similarly, William Van Deburg made a good contribution to the field in his work on the cultural victories of Black Power. In New Day in Babylon, Van Deburg offered useful empirical data regarding black militancy on college campuses. (8) In the 1970 work, Black Students, sociologist Harry Edwards also chronicled the infusion of Black Power strategies into campus life. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"This Is Harlem Heights": Black Student Power and the 1968 Columbia University Rebellion
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.