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Black Student Activism in the 80s and 90s

February 8, 2012

In the 1980s and 1990s Black students at the University of Pennsylvania partook in a series of protests to ensure that the Administration felt their discomfort and responded. Penn has been displacing many in the West Philadelphia community for decades.  And while many students have been protesting this expansion by emphasizing the unjust displacement of full communities, it was not until the 1980s that this became a huge cause.  Students staged sit-ins and protests in front of College Hall demanding a change in policy in 1988.  Further protests occurred in response to a professor referring to Black students as “ex-slaves” in 1985.

Moving forward to the 1990s, in context of the Rodney King hearings and continued racism in The Daily Pennsylvania, students held major rallies and boycotts in response.  More specifically, Black students partook in a heist of The Daily Pennsylvania in which 14,000 copies of the paper were taken from campus.  This was a major show of discomfort on a campus that did not openly foster an acceptance of Black students.  This can be further seen by the protest held by students on MLK day and the eventual formation of UMOJA.

Aya Saed, CAS ’13

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