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1968 protests at Columbia University called attention to ‘Gym Crow’ and got worldwide attention

File 20180827 75972 19v0afj.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Black power militant H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael (right) appeared at a sit-in protest at Columbia University in New York City on April 26, 1968. AP

Stefan M. Bradley, Loyola Marymount University

“If they build the first story, blow it up. If they sneak back at night and build three stories, burn it down. And if they get nine stories built, it’s yours. Take it over, and maybe we’ll let them in on the weekends.”

This is what Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Black Panther Party affiliate H. Rap Brown told a crowd of Harlem residents at a community rally in February 1967.

They were there to protest Columbia University’s construction of a gymnasium in Morningside Park, the only land separating the Ivy League university from the historic black working-class neighborhood. The gym, along with the discovery that Columbia was affiliated with the Institute for Defense Analysis – a national consortium of flagship universities and research organizations that provided strategy and weapons research to the U.S. Department of Defense – stirred students to protest for more decision-making power at their elite university.

When considering the key events of 1968, such as the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of national leaders, demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention and the Olympics, as well international events concerning democracy, the Columbia uprisings merit attention.

Issues converge on campus

As I detail in my book – “Harlem vs. Columbia University: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s” – all the issues of the 1960s and New Left collided on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia. Students contended with the war in Vietnam, institutional racism, the generational divide, sexism, environmentalism and urban renewal – all while trying to find dates and attend classes.

Everything came to a head on April 23, 1968 – just weeks after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. That was when members of the Columbia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society hosted a rally on campus to decry the war – and, what many considered the racist gym in Morningside Park. Members of the Students’ Afro-American Society, or SAS, and Columbia varsity athletes – known as jocks – were in attendance as well. SAS followers showed up to resume an earlier fight they had with the jocks who supported the construction of the gymnasium.


Read more: Revolution Starts on Campus


Some students had been working with Harlem community groups. They saw the gym as a symbol of the university’s “power” over a defenseless and poverty-stricken black neighborhood. They joined local politicians who opposed the gym for a myriad of reasons, including its concrete footprint in a green park and the inability of the community to have access to the entire structure once built.

Troubled relations

The situation was, of course, complex. Columbia had long been a contentious neighbor to Harlem and Morningside Heights. The campus gym was decrepit and prevented the university from competing with its Ivy peers effectively in terms of facilities and space. Regarding the park, Columbia had constructed softball fields that initially community members could use. By 1968, however, only campus affiliates could access the fields. Then, white faculty members had been mugged in the park.

The university, seeking to expand in the postwar period, purchased US$280 million of land, mortgages and residential buildings in Harlem and Morningside Heights. That resulted in the eviction of nearly 10,000 residents in a decade, 85 percent of whom were black or Puerto Rican.

Columbia acted in coordination with Morningside Heights, Inc., a confederacy of educational and religious institutions in the neighborhood that also sought to “renew” the area to serve their mostly white patrons. David Rockefeller, grandson of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, acted as MHI’s first president. Columbia was the lead institution.

Despite being close to a black neighborhood, the university admitted few black students and employed a handful of black instructors. For instance, as I report in my book, in the 1964-1965 school year, there were only 35 black students out of 2,500 students enrolled in Columbia’s College of Arts and Sciences, and just one tenured black professor. By spring 1968, there were more than 150 black students enrolled.

On April 23, protesting students attempted to take over the administration building but were repelled by campus security. Then, they walked to the gym construction site where they tore down fencing and physically confronted police. From the park, they returned to campus where they finally succeeded in taking over a classroom building, Hamilton Hall. In doing so, they surrounded the dean of the college, Henry Coleman, who chose to stay in his office with his staff. To “protect” Coleman, several jocks stood guard outside his door.

Clashes with police

What started as a racially integrated demonstration of students took a turn in the late night when H. Rap Brown and several community activists showed up at the invitation of the Students’ Afro-American Society. The student group, Brown and the community activists agreed that black people solely should occupy Hamilton Hall and that white activists should commandeer other buildings. The white demonstrators accommodated, leaving Hamilton and taking over four other buildings. That forced Columbia officials to contend with not just a student protest but a black action on campus at that height of Black Power Movement. Incidentally, the community activists removed and replaced the jocks as sentries of the dean’s office.

Participants of a student sit-in assist each other in climbing up into the offices of Columbia University President Grayson Kirk on April 24, 1968. AP

To the ire of many white university administrators of the period, Stokely Carmichael of SNCC and the Black Panthers fame showed up to explain – through the press – that the university deal either with the student activists on campus or militants coming from Harlem. This insinuated the tone of the demonstrations would change drastically. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated less than three weeks before. From offices in Morningside Heights, Columbia administrators had watched Harlem burn as residents mourned and reacted to the black leader’s death. The only thing that separated the elite white institution from angry black rebels was the park in which the university was building a gymnasium against the will of many community members.

In consultation with New York Mayor John Lindsay, Columbia administrators chose to end the demonstrations by calling 1,000 New York police officers to clear the five occupied campus buildings on April 30. Chaos and brutality prevailed. As the NAACP and other Harlem community organizations stood watch, black students vacated Hamilton, which SAS had renamed Malcolm X Hall, and were arrested peacefully. In the building that national Students for a Democratic Society leader and Port Huron Statement author Tom Hayden occupied, police and demonstrators collided physically. One of the most iconic documents of the postwar period, the 1962 Port Huron Statement outlined the need for young people to be in the vanguard of the movement to eradicate racism and grind the military-industrial complex to a halt; it centered the notion of participatory democracy, which called for greater inclusion of the citizenry in decision-making. In other buildings, students found themselves on the hurt end of police batons when they resisted arrest.

Police rush toward student protesters outside Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library on April 30, 1968. AP

Worldwide attention

In opening the door to violence, the university turned what was a local matter into an international story and radicalized moderate students and neighborhood residents. Young radicals abroad learned of “Gym Crow” and university-sponsored defense research. In solidarity, they supported the Columbia student activists’ causes and chanted “two, three, many Columbias” – a refrain that gained popularity among American student protesters.

After the demonstrations in April, ensuing violent demonstrations in May, and a six-week student strike, the university did not build the gym in the park and renounced its membership in the Institute for Defense Analysis.

In my view, elements of the 1968 Columbia rebellion are inspiring and instructional for today’s students, protesters and community residents. As gentrification threatens the homes of poor black people in urban areas today, activists should recall that 50 years earlier young people believed they could cut their university’s ties to war research and prevent a prestigious white American institution from expanding into black spaces at the same time. They succeeded.

Our new podcast “Heat and Light” features Prof. Bradley and Columbia University’s Michael Kazin discussing this issue in depth.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Stitcher Listen on RadioPublic Listen on TuneIn

Stefan M. Bradley, Chair, Department of African American Studies, Loyola Marymount University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

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Beyoncé, Media Hype, 2016 Super Bowl Madness

Beyoncé, Media Hype, 2016 Super Bowl Madness

Beyonce and her Girl Gang

NB Commentary: I enter this discussion kicking and screaming and swearing to myself that I am not, and I mean, am not gonna fall prey to the hype. But today, I had to come forth with another blog post.  I was compelled by the comments under many of the pictures posted of her and her girl gang at the Super Bowl and how some folks were actually seeing it as a Powerful Movement, a statement about Black Power, a high five to Malcolm X, and the insane indicators of it being an Illuminati ritual. But what really took me to the top of the clock was the actual lyrics, which in no way seem to reflect any of this, in fact quite the contrary. So here I am again, with something to rant on about That!!!

Let me begin my rant with a shout out to Cookie Couture who posted the lyrics to Beyoncé song.

“Thank you for this. You know how you witness something and something inside you goes off and tells you that there is something wrong with this because inside of you, you can feel it going in all kinds of different directions. Well, thanks again, I really appreciate you posting those lyrics!!”

Nowadays, we cannot take lightly the impact of the media. It’s in your face in an instant and manipulating you and brainwashing you in the millisecond. Nowadays, it’s more dangerous due to the advance technology they can use to grab your brain and do all kinds of trickery with it.
The invention of motion pictures and later television, herald the beginning of an epic age, where the minds of the masses are in the hands of the elite controllers who can massage, manipulate, brainwash and control the narrative to such a degree that people believe that what they see is real and true.
People identify with the character on the screen so much so that they protect them as if they have an intimate relationship with them, all because of what they see on the screen. People project themselves into the personification of a made up image on the screen and it becomes their alters. For that matter, fans are as much MK-Ultra slaves as much as the people they Idolize and Adore. The Cult of Personality has replaced the Gods and Goddesses of ancient times.
The people on the big screen are fallible human beings, but the masses need Gods so they elevate them to the status of “Gods” and defend their “Persona” as if it’s real, or actually means anything. The psychological irony of this is that their “Persona” does mean something for the hungry masses, but 99% of them won’t use this power for anything other than maintaining the status quo of the Elite Moguls who control them from behind the scenes. Their true creativity is eclipsed by the greed, avarice and debauchery that is the world of celebrity. If they step out of the mold that was designed for them, they will fail or meet a worse fate. Thus the hype is just that, hype, form no substance, yet the impact of such superficiality is as deadly has a thousand poison arrows.

And Now to the Lyrics. You decide, how progressive these are.
What happened at the New Wil’ins?
Bitch, I’m back by popular demand
[Refrain: Beyoncé]
Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess
Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh
I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin’)
I’m so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces
My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana
You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama
I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils
Earned all this money but they never take the country out me
I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag
[Interlude: Messy Mya + Big Freedia]
Oh yeah, baby, oh yeah I, ohhhhh, oh, yes, I like that
I did not come to play with you hoes, haha
I came to slay, bitch
I like cornbreads and collard greens, bitch
Oh, yes, you besta believe it
[Refrain: Beyoncé]
Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess
Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh
I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin’)
I’m so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces
My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana
You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama
I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils
Earned all this money but they never take the country out me
I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag
[Chorus: Beyoncé]
I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it
I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it
I twirl on them haters, albino alligators
El Camino with the seat low, sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off (I go off), I go hard (I go hard)
Get what’s mine (take what’s mine), I’m a star (I’m a star)
Cause I slay (slay), I slay (hey), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
All day (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
We gon’ slay (slay), gon’ slay (okay), we slay (okay), I slay (okay)
I slay (okay), okay (okay), I slay (okay), okay, okay, okay, okay
Okay, okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay
Slay trick, or you get eliminated
[Verse: Beyoncé]
When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
If he hit it right, I might take him on a flight on my chopper, cause I slay
Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J’s, let him shop up, cause I slay
I might get your song played on the radio station, cause I slay
I might get your song played on the radio station, cause I slay
You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making, cause I slay
I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making
[Chorus: Beyoncé]
I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it
I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it
I twirl on my haters, albino alligators
El Camino with the seat low, sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off (I go off), I go hard (I go hard)
Get what’s mine (take what’s mine), I’m a star (I’m a star)
Cause I slay (slay), I slay (hey), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
All day (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
We gon’ slay (slay), gon’ slay (okay), we slay (okay), I slay (okay)
I slay (okay), okay (okay), I slay (okay), okay, okay, okay, okay
Okay, okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay
Slay trick, or you get eliminated
[Bridge: Beyoncé]
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, I slay
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation
You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation
Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper
[Outro]
Girl, I hear some thunder

Golly, look at that water, boy, oh lord

AND NEXT,
 TRENDING ON THE OTHER END OF THE MASS MIND CONTROL SCALE
COMES THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT????
FEBRUARY 10, 2016
ARE BEYONCE’S ‘FORMATION’ LYRICS ANTI-COP, PRO-BLACK OR JUST PLAIN PERFECT?
The lyrics and video to Beyonce’s new single “Formation” shouldn’t be surprising to any fans who have been closely following the political leanings of the pop artist and her husband Jay-Z. While the power couple have often tried to keep it quiet, they’ve been huge financial supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. Last year, activist Dream Hampton revealed that the couple had poured in tens of thousands of dollars in bail money without a second thought when Baltimore and Ferguson protestors were jailed. After those tweets were deleted, he later suggested that they didn’t really want to largely publicize the fact, reported The Guardian.
That attitude seems to be shifting when peering into the video, performance and lyrics behind Beyonce’s “Formation.” Just as she gained accolades for aligning herself with feminism on her 2013 surprise self-titled album, Beyonce has once again recognized the power of pop and the cult of her own artistry to send a message. This time, it’s about the police violence faced by the black community.

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