Tagged: black history

Progress in the Face of Racism: 1960s UO President Arthur Flemming

This is the fourth of a series of blog posts highlighting the ongoing work of the Documenting UO History Project within the University Archives. A major part of this project is researching and documenting the often untold and hidden histories of the university’s diverse and underrepresented communities. This year our focus will continue to focus on Black history on campus, specifically Black student activism from the 1960s to present. Prior posts can be seen here.

UO President Arthur S Flemming, 1961

I began my current research on Black student activism on the University of Oregon campus by researching campus life in the 1960s, this led me to perhaps the campus’s most progressive president, Arthur S. Flemming. President Flemming was popular among students and less popular with conservative Oregonian’s and the university’s  board of trustees. In my interview with Herman Brame, one of the University of Oregon’s founding Black Student Union members, he offered insight into what it was like working with President Flemming firsthand. Brame’s experience provided the perfect contrast for my analysis of Flemming’s tenure.

President Flemming arrived on the Oregon campus in 1961 after serving as the United States Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Eisenhower from 1958-1961. Flemming quickly became popular on campus, particularly with students. He championed the rights of minority students and even defended the constitutional rights of the Communist Party, allowing representatives to speak on campus. Brame’s experience with working with UO President Flemming in the 1960s was incredibly positive. Brame, as well as many other activists, students and staff applauded President Flemming for being a progressive forward-thinker. In fact, President Flemming had an open door policy with the BSU, something that Brame confirmed in his interview.

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A Pillar of Hope: Dr. Ed Coleman’s Legacy

Ed Coleman, University Archives photograph collection, UA Ref 3

This is the third of a series of blog posts highlighting the ongoing work of the Documenting UO History Project within the University Archives. A major part of this project is researching and documenting the often untold and hidden histories of the university’s diverse and underrepresented communities. This year our focus will continue to focus on Black history on campus, specifically Black student activism from the 1960s to present. In this specially released post we are celebrating the life of Professor Ed Coleman. Prior posts can be seen here.

“I’ve had urine thrown on me, I’ve been through the fire… I grew up living Jim Crow — I didn’t think about it then, it was just part of life, I know life shouldn’t be that way, but I don’t look back in anger.” –Dr. Coleman, Register-Guard Interview, June, 2016

Dr. Edwin Leon Coleman II left an enduring legacy at the University of Oregon and in the Eugene community as an educator, musician, civil rights activist, writer, community and campus organizer, and perhaps most importantly, a friend and advocate of students, faculty and community members of color. His passing on Friday, January 20, shocked circles across the state of Oregon. When it comes to civil rights and activism on the University of Oregon campus and in Eugene, Professor Coleman stands out as one of the most impactful Oregon faculty members of the late 20th century.

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Taking Action: UO Alum Documenting Black History

This is the second of a series of blog posts highlighting the ongoing work of the Documenting UO History Project within the University Archives. A major part of this project is researching and documenting the often untold and hidden histories of the university’s diverse and underrepresented communities. This year our focus will continue to focus on Black history on campus, specifically Black student activism from the 1960s to present. Prior posts can be seen here.

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Herman Brame and Bill Bowerman, ca. 1980s, photo courtesy of Herman Brame.

“I went to the student union to get something to eat and on the tables were all these flyers. So I picked one up to read it and some white supremacist group had put out flyers that had a picture of an ape and a picture of a black person comparing their anatomies. Saying these are one in the same.” – Herman Brame, Black student experience, University of Oregon, 1968

Last year, the UO Black Student Task Force released a list a list of 12 demands to the university administration — the demands included the immediate renaming of campus buildings, efforts to increase the black student population and an increase in black faculty.  The demands were strikingly similar to the list of demands and grievances offered by the University of Oregon Black Student Union in 1968 — many of which have been echoed on campus for decades. A strong African studies program has been another area where the university seems to lag behind counterparts in Portland and other west coast universities. Many black students say there is general feeling of exclusion on campus and in the community. This is a century-old dilemma plaguing minority groups throughout Eugene and Springfield – something that both lists addressed and that has come to the forefront recently on campus.  This post highlights some of those recent activities and our current outreach with UO alumni on this topic. Continue reading

Telling the Stories: Documenting Black Student Activism at UO

logo_final_lowresThis is the first of a series of blog posts highlighting the ongoing work of the Documenting UO History Project within the University Archives. A major part of this project is researching and documenting the often untold and hidden histories of the university’s diverse and underrepresented communities. This year our focus will continue to focus on Black history on campus, specifically Black student activism from the 1960s to present.

Although the civil rights era was decades ago, it has become increasingly obvious that racism continues to plague cities large and small from coast to coast — our university, city and nation is in the midst of massive change. In recent years, campus activist groups like the Black Student Union and Black Lives Matter have addressed racism and systematic marginalization of African Americans on the Oregon campus and in the community. Last year, the Black Student Union released a list of 12 demands to address racial discrimination and cultural intolerance. One of the first listed demands was the immediate action to rename all the buildings named after individuals with ties to racist groups or ideologies, including Deady Hall and Dunn Hall. Through an established renaming process involving detailed reports from historians, President Schill announced the immediate renaming of Dunn Hall (now tentatively named Cedar Hall). Yet the status of Deady Hall still remains unknown until further review and consideration (see full message regarding the building renaming from President Schill). Interestingly, the list of demands submitted in 2016 is strikingly similar to the list of demands that the Black Student Union released nearly 40 years earlier in 1968, including the demands for more Black faculty, improved funding for Black students, and increased curriculum on Ethnic Studies, just to name a few. Why are these lists so similar and what does it say about the intervening years? This year we will be investigating this history and questions as part of the larger series within the Documenting UO History project.

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Finding Muhammad Ali in UO’s Special Collections

Jack Olsen was a jouBlack is Best 1967 by Olsen coverrnalist who wrote for Sports Illustrated and later wrote true crime books. His was the very first biography of Muhammad Ali. UO Special Collections and University Archives has Jack Olsen’s Papers, check out the finding aid here.

Listen to an excerpt from the book Black is Best: The Riddle of Cassius Clay (New York Dell) of an excerpt of an Ali recording that Jack Olsen made and read the audio transcript. Continue reading