Free Men All: The Civil Rights Movement at Dartmouth
The Civil Rights Movement in the United States began to gain ground in the 1950s but came to the national forefront during the 1960s. Fueled by the desire for equality of citizenship for African-Americans, this movement is often remembered for such Supreme Court decisions as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Civil Rights Act (1964), and the Voting Rights Act (1965). The influence of these significant legislative decisions, as well as that of leading activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, created momentum for the movement and ushered in new avenues for reform.
As the Civil Rights Movement spread across the United States, Dartmouth College served as a platform for social awareness and change. The history of the Civil Rights Movement at Dartmouth College in many ways reflects national events and sentiments. Students here spoke out against segregation in fraternities and athletics as well as mobilizing for voting rights. Numerous young men at Dartmouth worked tirelessly to bringing awareness of the movement to their own community here on campus, with the goal of effecting serious change both locally and nationally. The college administration, too, was pre-emptive in its establishment of campus organizations, such as the “A Better Chance” program or the Equal Opportunity Committee, that were meant to make higher education a reality for African-Americans.
The exhibition was curated by Julia Logan and was on display in the Class of 1965 Galleries from August 30 to October 3, 2014.
Materials Included in the Exhibition
- A signed letter from Martin Luther King Jr. to Professor Morrison from February, 1960 regarding a speaking engagement at Dartmouth College. MLK was asked to lecture to Dartmouth’s “Great Issues Course”, a course designed to bring awareness to major, global issues. This letter is indicative of Dartmouth ‘s early attempt at integrating current events into their curriculum as well as the importance of educating their students about the Civil Rights movement. MS 960152
- Governor George Wallace of Alabama was invited by Dartmouth’s Undergraduate Council to speak to the Dartmouth community about his segregationist policies in November of 1963 eight months before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. This is a photograph capturing students protesting Governor Wallace’s sentiments towards inequality. It is important to note that there is only one black student in the photograph. This man is Richard Joseph from the class of 1965. Wallace, George Photo File
- In October of 1963, before Wallace visited campus a letter circulated between Dartmouth faculty members referencing a faculty demonstration against the ideas of Governor Wallace. Not only were students dissatisfied with his segregationist policies but also faculties were as well and openly showed their disapproval by wearing armbands during Wallace’s visit. Student Protests Vertical File
- “Rise up” pin. Dartmouth Afro-American society was founded in 1966. The pin is representative of the society and what they represent and symbolize. The Society was founded “for the coordination of the Black student body into all of the various aspects of College life.” Rising up against inequality, discrimination and adversity are values that all students on campus should heed to. The quotation from press release for the Temple murals (DC Hist iconography 1399)
- Photograph from Afro-American photo file. Undated photograph.
- In January of 1965 Malcolm X visited the Dartmouth campus as a guest speaker sponsored by the Undergraduate Council. He spoke to the community on “The Black Revolution in America.” He warned that “the year 1965 will be the longest, hottest, bloodiest summer yet…” (The D Jan 27, 1965). A month later on February 21, 1965 Malcolm X was assassinated. This is the transcript of an interview with Malcolm done by Dartmouth’s radio station, WDCR. Malcolm X’s presence on campus is representative of Dartmouth’s students wanting to educate themselves and their community about the Civil Rights Movement. Malcolm X vertical file.
- The Black Student at Dartmouth pamphlet (DP-13, Box 8448) nd. and “Notes on Equal Opportunity Recruiting” 1972 (DP-13, Box 8448).
- In May of 1969 the Dartmouth Afro-American Society submitted a list of 18 needs to the College administration. The needs represented the students desire for new programming, diversity initiatives and equal opportunity admissions policies. Both items are representative of the efforts made by the Society. (Letter to administration, Dartmouth College Office of the President, 1945-1970: John Sloan Dickey, DP-12, Box 7194).
- Changes to programming and initiatives also included a focus on African American culture. In 1968 the DAAS sponsored the Dartmouth Black Arts Festival. This item is a representative piece showcasing that the Afro-American students were integrating themselves into the culture of the college and the arts movement. Dartmouth Black Arts Festival (Afro-American Society Vertical File)
- A major example of this integration and “dedication to the principles exemplified via the life of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X)” are the Temple Murals in Cutter Hall. The Afro-American society sponsored the murals by famed artist, Florian Jenkins. “The themes were developed jointly with the students and the images serve to reflect the nature of the struggle they have identified and are committed to.” (Florian Jenkins, The Temple Murals DC Hist ND237.J4 A33 c.2) The influence of the students is visualized in Jenkins’ mural, “Tribes.” He states that “summer school was in full gear at the time, and many faces portrayed in this work were students living on campus during the summer of ‘72."
- The Dartmouth Christian Union was a major supporter of the Civil Rights movement and was involved in sponsoring events like the NAACP art auction raising funds for the national NAACP chapter. (Yellow flyer for event in DCU scrapbook, from DO-85)
- This is a page from the DCU scrapbook you with a newspaper clipping from Wallace’s second visit to campus in 1967. This visit is representative of the escalating feelings towards Wallace’s policies. The Dartmouth reported that on his first visit “he received a polite reception…while about 200 pickets paraded outside the building” (The D May 4, 1967). In contrast to his1967 visit was reported that the “Police Chief Terms Riot ‘Worst Seen in 22 Years”’( The D May, 4, 1967). DCU Scrapbook 1965-1967 (DO-85, Box 9727).
- This Newspaper paper clipping annotated with a violent, graphic note was sent to President John Dickey after Wallace’s second visit to campus. It represents the sentiments felt by an alumnus regarding the protest and the students’ disregard for freedom of speech. (From George Wallace incident collection, DA-32, Folder 3) The events of May 3rd illuminated the intense atmosphere on campus as well as throughout the Nation during this time period.
- Judiciary committee of the Undergraduate Council (UGC) letter (Dartmouth College Office of the President, 1945-1970: John Sloan Dickey, DP-12, Box 7187). A letter of discipline regarding the students who protested Wallace’s ’67 visit. It is important to see that the College recognizes that this goes farther than the confines of the Dartmouth community. “The events of May 3 have demonstrated that the College community as a whole—must be—come more concerned with the social problems of our times and the constructive means by which men of conscience can participate in their solution.”