On April 19, 1969, Cornell students began a 36-hour occupation of Willard Straight Hall in protest of racial issues on campus. Fifty years to the day, faculty, staff, students and alumni gathered at the Straight to reflect on the legacy of the occupation and the people involved.
“Talks of racial injustice and campus climate, in many ways, started right here at Cornell, thanks to the dedication and drive of students at that time,” said Carlton Smith, assistant director of Student Development Diversity Initiatives and co-organizer of the event. “We can’t forget that legacy.”
The reception included photos, remarks and musical selections performed by Baraka Kwa Wimbo Gospel Ensemble.
Marcellai Moisili ’21, who browsed historical photos of students gathered on the Arts Quad and at Barton Hall, said she was struck by the energy and determination apparent in the photographs.
“Seeing the individual people and seeing it in the context of our campus, you see the many black people who have walked this path before you,” said Moisili. “They paved the way for us to be here and to not feel threatened; I thought that was amazing to see.”
Read the entire article in The Cornell Chronicle.