Black Position Paper, 1968

As you read the following, as yourself: How much has changed at WashU since 1968? How much has not changed? What can we do to keep improving the safety and equality of students at our school?


Excerpts from the Black Position Paper, December 6, 1968:

The following statement is issued by The Association of Black Collegians.  This paper states our position and the reasons for our actions.

The unwarranted assault on the black student that took place on the 5th of December, 1968, is NOT the issue, it is only the spark that triggered our action and the decision to no longer tolerate the long, continuous process of harassment, insults, and derogatory actions of the university police directed towards black students, personnel, and visitors on the Washington University campus.

Basic to the initiation of meaningful and relevant interchange and interaction between the University and black people involved with the University, the following must be met:

This is the prompt dismissal from the force of the three officers who physically assaulted the student and the suspension of the two other officers involved in this incident until an investigation determines what further action should be taken in their case.

After this condition is satisfied, then we can move on to the following issues and areas of concern which urgently call for immediate attention and action.

Issues and Areas: The Black Manifesto

  1.  Institution of a Black Studies Program. The immediate recruitment of a Black director for the Black Studies Program, who shall design, direct, and implement the program.
  2.  Employment and promotional policy regarding Black people. That there be an immediate and serious investigation and improvement of the existing working conditions of the Black university personnel, especially the cafeteria and library workers.
  3. Financial aid for Black students. The removal of the crippling and burdensome loans for Black students and the awarding of full financial aid stipends to those needy black students either now receiving financial aid or needing financial aid in the future.
  4. Increased Black enrollment, that the undergraduate and graduate new student enrollment of the fall of 1969 be 25% Black.
  5.  General awareness and sensitivity of the administration, staff, and faculty that there be established seminars educating the faculty, staff, and administration on the differences and uniqueness of many (most) of the Black students who come here.
  6. University research of which Black people are objects. That there be re-evaluation and changes made in the present methods of formulating and conducting present so called “research projects” in Black communities.
  7. Permanent office and meeting facilities that there be made available for Black students furnished and fully equipped facilities for office and meeting purposes.
  8. Dormitory and off-campus housing: Black students face additional housing problems in locating decent off-campus housing. The University should provide special assistance for the particular problems Black students face in this area and should establish an effective policy of discouraging members of the community from dealing with those landlords and realtors who do not provide fair and equal treatment to Black students.
  9. Concerning the slavery to segregation course the so-called “Afro-American History” course. General Studies 213; one of the following alternatives be taken regarding the course: 1) the course be cancelled or 2) the course be restructured with any necessary changes to present an accurate and valid portrayal of the history of the Black man, or 3) the title of the course be changed to a more appropriate and descriptive title e.g. European Expansion into the Americas at the Expense of Black people.
  10.  General amnesty be granted to all Black students participating in this dramatization of the grievances and needs of Black people. All these issues are of an immediate and explosive nature and should be deal with as such.

The Association of Black Collegians must be directly and actively involved with the above.”

The above document is from the Black Manifesto Collection held at University Archives.  For more details, follow this link:

To learn more about the history of The Association of Black Students (originally known as The Association of Black Collegians) which formed in 1968, see

And to consider the many challenges Black students faced on campus, view the full text of the “1973 Black Student Guide” available on-line:

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