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"...Why not at Lemoyne-Owen?": Student Activism and the Influence of Black Power at LeMoyne-Owen College

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Abstract:

Shirletta J. Kinchen
PhD Candidate
University of Memphis
Email: skinchen@memphis.edu

“The students across the country are moving in this same direction, so why not at LeMoyne-Owen?”: Student Activism and Black Power at LeMoyne-Owen College


The recent wave of scholarship on the Black Power Movement (BPM) repositions an era that historian Peniel Joseph refers to as “one of the most important social, political, and cultural movements of the twentieth century.” The works of historians such as Joseph, William Van DeBurg, Jeffrey Ogbar, and Komozi Woodward help to bring clarity and prominence to one of the most understudied and misunderstood periods in American history. My work aims to add another element to the often-untold story of the BPM – its effect at the local level and specifically its influence in Memphis, Tennessee. Because of its location, rich cultural roots, as well as complicated racial history, Memphis provides a unique backdrop to explore the ways that local activists, students and ordinary people appropriated components of Black Power “to advocate for bread and butter issues such as decent housing, better public schools, employment, welfare benefits, and an end to police brutality.”
This essay considers the role of student activism at LeMoyne-Owen College, a small, private Historically Black College in Memphis, Tennessee. Specifically this work examines the November 1968 takeover of the administration building on the school’s campus and the events surrounding the students’ actions. I contend that the rising tide of the national and local Black Power Movement influenced the students to take action the drastic action. I also explore the students’ use of Black Power politics to illustrate their demands to the administration and their struggles with using the tactic. The school served in some ways as a template for the local Black Power activist group, The Invaders, as the group pushed the LeMoyne students to demand more and hold the administration accountable. Interestingly, the symbiotic relationship of the LeMoyne students and The Invaders test the usefulness and limits of Black Power on the campus and in the organizing strategy of the student body.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p436480_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Kinchen, Shirletta. ""...Why not at Lemoyne-Owen?": Student Activism and the Influence of Black Power at LeMoyne-Owen College" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p436480_index.html>

APA Citation:

Kinchen, S. J. ""...Why not at Lemoyne-Owen?": Student Activism and the Influence of Black Power at LeMoyne-Owen College" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p436480_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: Shirletta J. Kinchen
PhD Candidate
University of Memphis
Email: skinchen@memphis.edu

“The students across the country are moving in this same direction, so why not at LeMoyne-Owen?”: Student Activism and Black Power at LeMoyne-Owen College


The recent wave of scholarship on the Black Power Movement (BPM) repositions an era that historian Peniel Joseph refers to as “one of the most important social, political, and cultural movements of the twentieth century.” The works of historians such as Joseph, William Van DeBurg, Jeffrey Ogbar, and Komozi Woodward help to bring clarity and prominence to one of the most understudied and misunderstood periods in American history. My work aims to add another element to the often-untold story of the BPM – its effect at the local level and specifically its influence in Memphis, Tennessee. Because of its location, rich cultural roots, as well as complicated racial history, Memphis provides a unique backdrop to explore the ways that local activists, students and ordinary people appropriated components of Black Power “to advocate for bread and butter issues such as decent housing, better public schools, employment, welfare benefits, and an end to police brutality.”
This essay considers the role of student activism at LeMoyne-Owen College, a small, private Historically Black College in Memphis, Tennessee. Specifically this work examines the November 1968 takeover of the administration building on the school’s campus and the events surrounding the students’ actions. I contend that the rising tide of the national and local Black Power Movement influenced the students to take action the drastic action. I also explore the students’ use of Black Power politics to illustrate their demands to the administration and their struggles with using the tactic. The school served in some ways as a template for the local Black Power activist group, The Invaders, as the group pushed the LeMoyne students to demand more and hold the administration accountable. Interestingly, the symbiotic relationship of the LeMoyne students and The Invaders test the usefulness and limits of Black Power on the campus and in the organizing strategy of the student body.


Similar Titles:
Black Power and the Big Green: The Student Challenge to Dartmouth College

Transforming Protest and Politics: Student Activism and Black Power in the San Francisco Bay Area

Black Power and Beyond: The Alchemy of Student Activism, Black Power, and Anti-Poverty Protests in 1960s Greensboro, NC.


 
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