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Springfield College Black Student Protests: A Legacy of Campus Activism

A cross burning in front of International Hall in 1968 changed the trajectory of the student of color experience on the Springfield College campus. Students of color gathered together to form the African-American (Afro-Am) Society. Students would meet to discuss the changes they wanted to see on campus and would later use these discussions as the foundation for nine demands issued in February 1969. These demands from students and the inaction by the administration that followed would soon lead to two years of campus-wide tensions between activists and administration and result in protests—including two building takeovers—in the fight for social justice. 

With support from a Council of Independent Colleges grant, Springfield College undergradute students have explored Black student activism and protests on the Springfield College campus during 1969-70. Working under the supervision of Associate Professor of History Ian Delahanty, College Archivist Jeff Monseau, and Vice President for Communications Stephen Roulier, student researchers Isabella Bruns, Jack Duignan, Emily Gentile, Sabrina Moore, and Sabrina Williams pored through archival documents and photographs, listened to dozens of hours of oral history interviews, and collaborated throughout the fall and winter of 2021-22 to produce the exhibit A Legacy of Campus Activism: The Springfield College Protests of 1969–1970 for the Wood Museum of Springfield History. In the fall of 2021, students in Professor Delahanty’s class, Making History Public, contributed essential research and insight into the project.

This exhibit is currently on display in the Springfield College Museum, located in Judd Gymnasia on the Springfield College campus.