Straight Takeover Still Ignites Heated Debate

In April 1969, 80 African American students took over the Straight to protest the lack of minority rights, spurred by a culmination of events along with the tensions of the time period with the tumultuousness of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. In commemoration of the Straight Takeover’s 40th anniversary, The Sun hosted a panel on Saturday with people involved or affected by the event in order to discuss the history and its ramifications.

The Straight Takeover on Celluloid

Last week, Cornell University commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Willard Straight Hall Takeover, a historic event that has greatly influenced the nature of student activism on the Cornell campus. Besides the numerous articles published by The Sun, the Schwartz Center sponsored a screening of Straight ’69, a student film by Catherine Galasso ’05 that was made in her final year at Cornell. The screening also included a talk by Ed Zuckerman ’70, the managing editor of the Sun at the time of the takeover.

Intently focused

With a closer focus on the perpetrators, The Associated Press photo captures the gravity of the situation on campus. Its widespread circulation may have helped it win the Pulitzer Prize. (Photo Credit: Steve Star / Associated Press)

Full force

The Sun’s photo of the AAS students leaving the Straight, with a wider lens than the Associated Press photo, captures more of the ensuing action. (Photo Credit: Brian Gray / Sun File Photo)

Piercing cries of the bullhorn

David Burak ’69 yells to a crowd through a bullhorn on Ho Plaza while black students occupied the Straight. Among the crowd were many SDS members. (Photo Credit: Richard A. Shulman / Sun File Photo)

To the masses

Thomas Jones ’69 addresses over 10,000 people in Barton Hall on April 22, 1969. (Photo Credit: Richard A Shulman/ Sun File Photo)

On the outside

Protesters gather outside of Barton Hall to urge the faculty to reject the administration’s negotiated compromise with the Afro-American Society. (Photo Credit: Larry Baum / Sun File Photo)

Peace talks

Perkins meets with Whitfield and other student leaders to resolve the crisis.

The march

Whitfield and protesters finally leave the Straight, guns in hand, on their way to receive the signatures of Muller and Kennedy. (Photo Credit: N. Eric Weiss / Sun File Photo)