Search results for: untold stories

Untold Stories: Black History at the University of Oregon

logo_final_lowresIn honor of Black History Month, Special Collections and University Archives is highlighting some historic figures and events in the century-long history of African Americans at the University of Oregon. These often untold stories represent the determination and strength of the black community at the university as they fought state and institutional challenges. From the era of Oregon’s exclusion laws to the present, African American students and faculty have persevered under often difficult circumstances. What follows below are the stories of several notable people in the UO campus community as well as those events that have shaped the course of African American history at the University of Oregon.

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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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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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Progress With Limits: President Olum’s Quest for Change

This is the ninth 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 highlight Black history on campus, specifically Black student activism from the 1960s to present. Prior posts can be seen here.

The Governor — and others — have complained that President Olum can’ t have it both ways — continue to assert that the University of Oregon is of the quality of some of the best public universities in the United States and argue at the same time that faculty salaries at the University of Oregon are abysmally low compared with other institutions, and that this makes it extremely difficult to compete in the hiring of the best young faculty and in retaining our leading senior faculty against very large offers from various universities. Now, the truth is that it really is both ways. Our salaries are terribly, dangerously low and yet we are surely among the best 20 public universities in the United States and, in a number of areas, significantly better even than that.                            -President Olum, State of the university Address, 1987

Wartime ID badge photo of Paul Olum, courtesy  Los Alamos National Laboratory

Paul Olum stepped into the role of university president at Oregon with decades of academic experience. Having just served as provost at the University of Oregon, Olum had been groomed to take over for President Boyd (see previous post on Boyd).  Olum started his illustrious academic career in mathematics, even working on the Manhattan Project at one point.  He earned his bachelors in physics from Princeton in 1940, an M.A in physics from Princeton in 1942, and a PhD in mathematics from Harvard in 1947. Olum later served as a very popular and distinguished professor of mathematics at Cornell, and had a short stint at the University of Texas before beginning his tenure at Oregon.

Olum quickly developed a positive repoire with both students and staff.  Politically progressive, Olum publically called for nuclear disarmament and fought to make the University of Oregon more inclusive for all students. Although Olum’s tenure avoided the contention that filled the 1960s and 1970s, Olum faced recurring budget restraints and struggled to recruit more minority students to the Eugene campus.

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The Bureaucracy and Red Tape: President Boyd’s Obstacles to Change at UO

This is the eighth 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 highlight Black history on campus, specifically Black student activism from the 1960s to present. Prior posts can be seen here.

President Boyd and “Animal House Director John Landis 1977, Courtesy University of Oregon Libraries

President William Beaty Boyd served as the University of Oregon President from 1975 to 1980. Boyd is remembered for restructuring the universities administration, and giving the provost predominant control of daily operations. He also worked with production crews from the creators of “Animal House,” and secured a contract so that the Oregon campus could serve as a backdrop for the film. Boyd’s tenure followed an incredibly contentious time for the university, though Boyd enjoyed a relatively calm period for the university. This post highlights his brief tenure and specific achievements related to committees and minority activism.

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