DZODZOMENYO | Beyond Water Fountain Freedom

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.

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.

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)