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Harlem vs. Columbia University: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s Hardcover – July 15, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0252034527 ISBN-10: 025203452X Edition: 1st Edition

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Harlem vs. Columbia University: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s + From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline + The Black Revolution on Campus
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Editorial Reviews


"A valuable scholarly contribution chronicling one of the most tumultuous periods in America's racial history."--The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education


"Essential reading for anyone interested in student and community activism, university housing policies in urban areas, the Black Power and New Left movements, and U.S. history in the 1960s."
--Journal of African American History


"Harlem vs. Columbia, helps to expand our conception of the Black Studies Movement; and allows broader questions to be asked about Black Student Power. . . .  A useful contribution to the literature on the Black Power movement, student activism and the history of Black Studies."--Journal of African American Studies

"A valuable and long overdue addition to the historiography of 1960s student protest."--Labour/Le Travail

 "Bradley has done an admirable job in presenting an often overlooked movement at Columbia University and at a number of other Ivies."--H-Net Reviews

"An important in-depth look at the racial dimensions of the Columbia student protest."--H-1960s

Book Description

In 1968–69, Columbia University became the site for a collision of American social movements. Black Power, student power, antiwar, New Left, and Civil Rights movements all clashed with local and state politics when an alliance of black students and residents of Harlem and Morningside Heights openly protested the school's ill-conceived plan to build a large, private gymnasium in the small green park that separates the elite university from Harlem. Railing against the university's expansion policy, protesters occupied administration buildings and met violent opposition from both fellow students and the police.


In this dynamic book, Stefan M. Bradley describes the impact of Black Power ideology on the Students' Afro-American Society (SAS) at Columbia. While white students--led by Mark Rudd and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)--sought to radicalize the student body and restructure the university, black students focused on stopping the construction of the gym in Morningside Park. Through separate, militant action, black students and the black community stood up to the power of an Ivy League institution and stopped it from trampling over its relatively poor and powerless neighbors.


Comparing the events at Columbia with similar events at Harvard, Cornell, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania, Bradley locates this dramatic story within the context of the Black Power movement and the heightened youth activism of the 1960s. Harnessing the Civil Rights movement's spirit of civil disobedience and the Black Power movement's rhetoric and methodology, African American students were able to establish an identity for themselves on campus while representing the surrounding black community of Harlem. In doing so, Columbia's black students influenced their white peers on campus, re-energized the community's protest efforts, and eventually forced the university to share its power.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (July 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 025203452X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252034527
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,654,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stefan M. Bradley,Ph.D. is an associate professor of History and African American Studies at Saint Louis University, where he has received numerous awards and commendations. Originally from Yakima, Washington, Bradley researches the effects of student activism on college campuses. His first book, "Harlem vs. Columbia University: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s" won the Northeast Black Studies Association Phillis Wheatley Book Prize. His work has appeared in various scholarly and popular books and periodicals. Bradley has been featured on Cspan2 BookTV as well as nationally syndicated radio stations, and he is frequently invited to lecture at venues around the nation.

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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Bradley explores an important part of a rich civil rights era in terms of social change by adding the dynamic of contested space to black student power actions in the 1960s. Bradley analyzes issues of black student power, white and class privilege and land ownership, involving Columbia University's attempt to take over one of the rare green spaces in New York City. Morningside Park was not just a piece of property that tempted university officials in their plans for a new gymnasium for the white-dominated university, but it was one of the few public spaces for the neighboring communities of Morningside Heights and Harlem. Land ownership represented freedom, independence and the ability to also effect change in U.S. society, and Columbia University was one of the largest land-holders in New York. The new black student group Students Afro-American Society (SAS) took up the banner to halt construction of the project while the radicalized Students for a Democractic Society (SDS) used other tactics and methods of resistance in a campaign against Columbia to effect their own vision of change at the university and beyond. The dynamics between the students and faculty, community, police, administrators, and between both student groups are explored in depth and highlighted. During a time of tremendous racial strife and community tension in the aftermath of the assassination of MLK, the SAS nevertheless manifested impressive power and influence leading a student revolt against the gymnasium, with support from the surrounding communities and a few key outsiders, to successfully challenge this powerful white institution and return the park to Harlem and Morningside Heights. A great read and an interesting and important slice of American History.
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