Educating Harlem: “Viva Harlem U”: Black & Puerto Rican Students & the Transformation of City College, with Martha Biondi

| March 25, 2013
    In the spring of 1969, students at every single division of the City University of New York rose up in protest. The two-week occupation of City College in Harlem precipitated a political crisis in the city and ushered in a major shift in public policy; as a result, it received extensive local and national media attention, but strikingly, it has garnered little attention from historians. The black student movement in New York City won reforms that transformed public higher education and paved the way for the expansion of the black middle class in the New York City region. While the students achieved a great deal, they inspired formidable opposition, which anticipated the political conservatism that would later gain ascendancy in urban, state and federal governments.

    Martha Biondi is Associate Professor of African American Studies and History and the Director of Graduate Studies at Northwestern University. Biondi’s research interests include 20th century African American History with a focus on social movements, politics, labor, gender, cities, and international affairs. Her most recent book, The Black Revolution on Campus (University of California Press, 2012), describes an extraordinary but forgotten chapter of the black freedom struggle. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, black students organized hundreds of protests that sparked a period of crackdown, negotiation, and reform that profoundly transformed college life. At stake was the very mission of higher education. Black students demanded that public universities serve their communities; that private universities rethink the mission of elite education; and that black colleges embrace self-determination and resist the threat of integration. Most crucially, black students demanded a role in the definition of scholarly knowledge. Vividly demonstrating the critical linkage between the student movement and changes in university culture, the book illustrates how victories in establishing Black Studies ultimately produced important intellectual innovations and had a lasting impact on academic research and university curricula over the past 40 years. Professor Biondi received a BA from Barnard College and an MA and PhD from Columbia University.

Wednesday, March 27, 4-6pm

306 Russell, with reception following in 305 Russell