The Black Campus Movement and Memory

In reading about the Black campus movement, I was immediately struck by how it is absent from our public memory, even in activist spaces. We remember Kent state but not the incredible violence Black students faced, the 13 people who were literally murdered. Colleges don’t want to acknowledge this violent history, which illustrates how as Spade said colleges are political spaces, invested in white supremacy.  I thought about how these schools were similar to and different from Bryn Mawr. It seems like schools with larger Black populations demanded larger programs, while at schools like Bryn Mawr students wanted cultural centers. This makes sense because they kind of needed a bubble within a bubble. I also think schools like Bryn Mawr might have been less violent because of the facade of liberalism, which tries to be more subtle in its exploitation.

I was especially struck by student and staff collaboration, and how little success this had compared to other demands. Universities first care about their own financial interests, and their students as clients. In that way, it is especially important that students were willing to give up their own class status to side with exploited workers of their race. It is only when there is real solidarity between communities that revolution happens. You can also see this in things like the 3rd world student alliances, which allowed for much of the strength of the movement. I wonder how we can create those alliances in the present, when I see a lot of groups at schools like Bryn Mawr working separately. How do we connect Black struggles to BDS for example?