Fifty years of change

MSP Scholars participate in
Fifty Years of Change panel

50-year commemoration to salute racial progress and the leadership that helped make it possible

 

On April 26 – 28, 2018, The Ohio State University marked 50 years of change and progress with a salute to the body of former students and alumni who struggled for racial parity in an unpopular time and sowed seeds for change that still blossom today.

The three-day program of events commenced at the Longaberger Alumni House, where a campus bus took honored guests — including some of the former students punished for protesting university intolerance in 1968 — on a special tour of campus. That evening, President Michael V. Drake led a ceremony and reception that included remarks from members of the 1968 Black Student Union.

Other events over the weekend included a luncheon and panel on April 26 with Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) Morrill Scholars, hosted by The Ohio State Alumni Association and ODI. Held at Hale Hall, the moderated student panel included Morrill Scholars Jimmy Nash, Jayson Velazquez, Kayla Campbell, Maya Outlaw, Nnaemeka Anene, Amari Dryden, and Tori Branch. The students, who spoke to a group consisting of student protestors expelled from Ohio State in 1968, discussed why they chose Ohio State, the Morrill Scholarship Program, what other programs they are involved in as well as their personal experiences at the university.

ODI also hosted a reception and dinner on April 27 at the Faculty Club with featured speakers, the Honorable Ray Miller and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty.

The three-day event was held to commemorate events that took place fifty years ago, when the Black Student Union began meeting regularly with administrative officials to address growing concerns of racial bias and lack of representation at Ohio State. On April 26, 1968, students took over the Ohio State administration building to express their grievances, which were exacerbated after four female students were forced to leave a campus bus because the driver did not like their discussion about discrimination on campus and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Some 34 students were arrested, indicted or expelled from the university. But their voices were heard. From that day forward, acts of nonviolent resistance continued and ultimately led to change marked by the integration of academic courses and programs related to people of color, and the establishment of centers of ethnic and racial diversity.