It’s possible I wouldn’t be writing to you as a black student on this campus without the occurrence of the Willard Straight Hall Takeover in 1969. This semester marked the 50th anniversary of the event, and despite a 12-page Sun special issue, many students know nothing about its history. The Takeover forced the University and institutions nationwide not only to accept black students as names on the registrar but to recognize us as part of its fabric. As a black woman on this campus, there is no way I could have made it this far in my Cornell career without acknowledging the men and women who paved the way for the rest of us. Yet so many don’t even know what it is.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Willard Straight Takeover, Harry Edwards Ph.D. ’73, a noted sociologist and civil rights activist, held an open conversation about social justice in Bailey Hall with Frank Dawson ’72, who participated in the protest.
The 50th Anniversary of the Willard Straight Hall Occupation continues this week with a keynote conversation between two alumni involved in the protest and a remembrance walk from the Africana Center to Willard Straight Hall.
This April marks the 50th anniversary of the Willard Straight Hall occupation and the resulting founding of the Africana Studies and Research Center. A two-day symposium will commemorate the historic events on April 12 and 13.
The book, titled Five Freshman: A Story of the Sixties, highlights the different perspectives of five students at Cornell, following their journeys from orientation to graduation on the eve of the Vietnam War.
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.