Remembering Race at Brown

Inspired by Brown’s 250th anniversary, the sophomore seminar Race and Remembering collaborated to critically examine race at Brown University. This digital exhibit highlights University legacies of erasure and histories of resistance. This is a call to REMEMBER.

Tag: President Ray L. Heffner

The Day of the Black Walkout

The Black men of the Afro-American Society at Brown University and Black women of Pembroke College walk out December 5th, 1968.

The Black men of the Afro-American Society at Brown University and Black women of Pembroke College walk out on December 5th, 1968. [1]

The student-administration efforts had so far not produced the desired results of increased Black enrollment. In addition to the administration lacking in urgency, they misrepresented the demand of having 11% Black students in the incoming class as a racial quota system and undermined student power. This act of resistance became known as the 1968 Black walkout.

The Afro-American Society stated, “We, the [B]lack men at Brown University have therefore decided to dissociate ourselves from the University as of 12:00 noon…”[2]

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[1] From 1968 to Now | Brown 250. December 5, 1968. Imagine 250+, Brown University, Providence. Accessed December 1, 1968. http://250.brown.edu/

[2] The Black Men of the Afro-American Society at Brown University. Letter to the editor, Brown Daily Herald, December 5th, 1968.

The Public Sphere

The Evening Bulletin newspaper article titled, “Perplexing,” published December 4th, 1968. [1]

This article justified the Brown administration’s resistance to the demands of its Black students. By highlighting the administration’s attempts to keep communication open, the writer attempted to subvert the reasons for the walkout, and draw negative attention away from the administration. The demands were further characterized as irrational when the writer appraised administration and questioned student demands.

“I’m puzzled by their action…I feel that there has been real progress made this fall, especially among the black students here.”

Brown President Ray L. Heffner, December 4th, 1968. [2]

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[1] “Perplexing.” The Evening Bulletin. December 4, 1968, Ray Lorenzo Heffner files, Box 35, U.A.

[2] Ibid.