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Black ink : Black Student Movement, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. online resource ([Chapel Hill, N.C.]) 1969-current, February 28, 1985, Image 8

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Page 8 Black Ink February 28, 1985 , BSM Began With Demands Got Results Movement has found that UNC is guilty of denying equal educational opportunities to minority group members of the local community, the State of North Carolina and the nation at large.” To right some of the wrongs that the University had engaged in, the group had come up with 23 demands. They included special admissions for Black students; an African and Afro-American Studies Department; an Office for a Dean of Black Students; Blacks on the Board of Admissions; student activities fees funding for the young BSM; and better treatment of non-academic employees. In fact, these weren’t the first demands the militant organization had made since its inception in November 1967. Disappointed with the campus NAACP, the top Black students at the University had decided that a new organization should voice their views. For a month and a half, the Student Legislature— the antecedent of the Campus Governing Council- bad delayed passage of a Black student recruitment bill. Finally, after suggesting that the program be funded with $820 of student ac tivities fees, the bill had been defeated on Nov. 15. Outraged, 54 Black students had met that night and elected Dobbins chairman along with a group of central commit tee members (Ben Spaulding, Juan Cofield, Reginald Hawkins, Jr., William Polard and Ike Battle). Dobbins had said at the time, “We’re going to be more of an action group than the NAACP ever was.” The NAACP took a back seat for the first time since 1962 when it began on campus. The immediate BSM goals included getting a full credit Negro history course with a Black man teaching it; getting fun ding for the BSM from Student Legislature; supporting Black candidates for Student Legislature seats; and agitating for the University to hire more Black faculty members. The goals seemed elementary and without teeth—despite the organization’s rhetoric. Even the first demonstrations by the group had seemed more ceremonial than anything else to the white students who had happened upon them. Feb. 15, 1968, found BSM members in the streets of Chapel Hill marching as part of a statewide protest of police slay ings of three Black college students in South Carolina. They had even burned an effigy of South Carolina Governor Robert McNair on Franklin Street. But the first real test had come April 6. Martin Luther King Jr. had lain dying on the balcony of a cheap motel in Mem phis, Tenn. The assassin—a white man. The angered Black students marched to Franklin Street and back. They bought mini Confederate flags, soaked them with lighter fluid and burned them in front of Kappa Alpha house—the fraternity that most represented the Old South. On April 9, the non-academic employees along with the Black students took a day off from work at the urging of the BSM the Black workers could not be found at their work stations that day. The Daily Tar Heel staff writer who described the strike said it crippled the dining ser vices that day. The BSM had shown it+iad power— and it would use it. The Dec. 11 demands should never have come as a shock to the University administration as far as they were con cerned. And the Black students weren’t going to wait very long for an answer. On Dec. 14,40 Black students invad ed South Building-much like an invasion of the Old South by Union forces. For 30 minutes, they demanded to hear from Sit- terson, who as on Dec. 11, was unavailable. Claiborne Jones once again met with them. Dobbins wasn’t pleased. “The Chancellor obviously doesn’t feel that the situation is critical enough to meet with us and do something,” Dob bins told the Daily Tarheel. “It’s obvious that we’re going to have to show him that these demands are urgent.” “We don’t make any demands that we can’t follow,” he said. “We got ac tions for any demands that we make.” Sitterson finally acknowledged receipt of the demands. However, it would be February before he would answer. Nevertheless, the demands were get ting responses from other places. The University’s Faculty Council, after six months of preparation, had come out Jan. 6 with four recommendations to the University Administration—all addressed in the 23 demands: a centrally directed ef fort to increase the proportion of Blacks on campus; a talent search for qualified Blacks; an experimental program to get any student who would do well at the school, yet could not meet the academic admission standards; and a Black assis tant director in both the departments of student aid and admissions. In addition, the American Associa tion of University Professors had pledged support of the BSM and its demands. Then, Jan. 23, the Chancellor beat his self-imposed deadline for responding to the BSM by a week; he issued a 19-page statement in answer to the BSM’s demands. The reply was less than favorable to the Black organization, it began: “The University cannot, in policy or practice, provide unique treatment for any single race, color or creed. To do so would be a step backward, and the University should set its sights on a better future.” The individual answers went down hill there. Sitterson either replied that the problems were being studied or they had been addressed. Typical of the rejections and explanations in the reply was that to the idea of an African and Afro-American Studies Department. Sitterson wrote that the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, the An thropology Department, English Depart ment, Sociology Department and Political Sciences Department offered such courses. As for the financial aid question, Sit terson simply said the University was always looking for more money; to the hiring of a Black admissions officer came the reply that the Chancellor’s office wasn’t in change of such hiring; and to the non-academic employee treatment demand—the University had already take steps to alleviate problems. The reaction was immediate—and only a fraction of it came from the BSM. The Greensboro Daily News, Durham Morning Herald and Charlotte Observer all praised the Chancellor’s reply as level headed and rationally motivated. The Daily News was most insulting to the BSM and its demands: “We are glad that Chancellor Sitterson was not sidetracked by the emotionalism of the December 11 “demands.” He has set the right tone for this discussion—firm, but calm and concilliatory. ...” The BSM certainly wasn’t happy about the reply. “We support the BSM” signs could be seen bouncing above the heads of 200 students and faculty members as they marched single file through the campus and down Franklin Street on Feb. 6. The march ended in South Building—after 10 minutes of milling around, the marchers emptied the building. The UNC Graduate Student Associa tion joined the BSM in its criticism of the Chancellor’s reply. In addition, the DTH, the Southern Student Organizing Com mittee and the New University Con ference joined to support the BSM. As a backlash, to the sudden radi calism on campus, Grainger Barrett, a UNC student announce the formation of a Hayakawa Society, after the famed con servative California legislator. Dobbins, nevertheless, said, “We don’t intend to back down.” He added: “We would like to have the support of white students, but we are going to do our own thing regardless.” The Black students were not looking to back down. To give themselves the militant look, they began wearing rawhide belts with .50 calibre machine gun shells. They also offered the Chancellor un til Feb. 21 to answer them fully ... or else. On Feb. 19, the Chancellor issued a statement: “The Black Student Move ment is an officially recognized organiza tion.” Governor Robert Scott added his own advice to the student-chancellor disagreement: Scott would not hesitate to send the Highway Patrol and National Guard units to campuses. But, the BSM would not have a chance to have a show down over the 23 specific demands. On Feb. 23, 17 University food workers decided that they wanted the day off and would keep taking the day off until their pay was raised. The BSM, in its demands, had called for better conditions for non-academic employees; the BSM had obligated itself to helping the workers. * * * Over the next few years, however, almost all of the demands were met. The first was a special admissions project begun in the fall 1969. By fall 1971, one- third of the Black students on campus were “special admissions” students with good academic potential. The next demand to fall was African and Afro-American Studies Curriculum Department demand. On April 19, 1969, the Committee on Afro-American and African Studies Curricula suggested that the University add 23 courses in Black studies. Professor G.B. Cleveland, chairman of the committee, said, “The idea has been discussed, before, but the BSM demands got things moving.” In less than two years, the BSM was also receiving student funding. In addi tion, Black faces soon could be seen in administrative offices as well as in front of classrooms—albeit in very small numbers. Of the 23 demands, 85 percent were met within five years. The rest, by nature, lost priority status. For example, one demand was that the Student Union director be fired for misleading the BSM about procedures for collecting money for a Stokely Carmichael lecture on cam pus. The director didn’t remain with the University long after the demands were made. When the 1971 academic year began, the students on campus found the BSM less politically and community-oriented, and more campus-oriented. It by no means, had arrived—but the BSM initia tion period seemed over as the organiza tion turned to governing responsibilities. Fastbreak Mexican Delivery Restaurant Next to A&P on Airport Road 968-0033 Buy One NACHOS PLUS Get One FREE Expires 3/15/85 not valid with any other offer

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