Cornell To Honor 50th Anniversary of Willard Straight Hall Takeover With Keynote Event and Commemorative Walk

By: Vivian Fan,  The Cornell Daily Sun
April 16, 2019

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.

Harry Edwards Ph.D. ’73 and Frank Dawson ’72 will delve into their experience with the occupation of Willard Straight Hall and reflect on the changes in the social justice movement over the last 50 years at Bailey Hall on Thursday.

Edwards is a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley and has studied black athletes and sociology throughout his career. He has authored many books including The Struggle That Must Be: An Autobiography, Sociology of Sport, Black Students and The Revolt of the Black Athlete.

“Dr. Edwards is the architect of so much important activism over the years,” said Prof. Riché Richardson, Africana studies. “He was a part of the iconic moment at the 1968 Olympics where Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the podium.”

Dawson is the co-director of Agents of Change, which screened at Cinemapolis on Tuesday night as part of the anniversary remembrance. The film focuses on the black student movements at San Francisco State University and at Cornell in the 1960s.

“I hope their conversation will bridge the gap between the past and the present,” Richardson said.

“The black student movement made a profound impact historically,” Richardson continued. “It made an impact at the national level as well as here at Cornell, but there are manifestations that are continuing even now that have intensified measurably over the past decade, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Richardson hopes attendees will leave with a better understanding of black athletes’ profound impact on social justice movements, which is an “intersection that is often overlooked and underappreciated.”

Read the entire article in The Cornell Daily Sun.


Willard Straight Hall occupation