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W.E.B. Du Bois College House

February 24, 2010

The Du Bois College House, like many other programs recognizing African-Americans at Penn, was initiated by Black undergraduates. A pioneering sophomore, Cathy Barlow, planned a campus wide sit-in and take-over of College Hall in 1968 to respond to the unwelcomed sentiments of Black students in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement. Also integral in the protest were three white male students who showed resistance to the University’s encroachment on the community and American involvement in the Vietnam War.

This began a dialogue, ultimately resulting in the Afro-American Studies Program and the Du Bois College House. There was widespread resistance to the Du Bois Residential Program, as it was called. Students and administrators voiced disapproval of what they felt was “reverse discrimination” and “separatism”. The students were outraged by this opposition and fought even harder for the House’s existence.

Finally, in 1972, after a long paper trail of legal considerations and student endorsements, the Du Bois Residential Program was placed on the first two floors of Low Rise North. Since, the Du Bois Residential Program has become the Du Bois College House, extending to all four floors of Low Rise North. The house has fostered the exploration of the Black Aesthetic, which manifests in the art, literature, and music that had been ignored by Penn for centuries. In the true spirit of W.E.B. Du Bois, the House continues to be a center for Black intellectuals searching diligently for an African identity and perspective within a historically White institution of higher learning.

In 2009, after much effort from Du Bois College House students, select administrators, and other concerned students, Du Bois underwent full renovations, revamping the aesthetic look of the cultural hub.

More information can be found at the following site:

Collin Williams
COL ’10

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