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     Raw Footage of a Press Conference by Five College African American Society
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OK we're here. Members of the of the various five college Afro-American societies are here at Wu M-F. And the thing we intend to do is to give you some sort of an overview of the demands that were presented to President Clinton at Amherst and to the college presidents at the University of Massachusetts. SMITH And Matt how are you. When I when the demands were given to Mr. Clinton about 15 20 minutes ago they were preface with the statement. Which I will read to you now. We the students of the five college black community feel the communication set up through your administrative structures have been meaningless and have not been responsive to our position as a viable force in this ballot. In numerable meetings countless proposals and powerless advisory committees have continuously frustrated our efforts to determine the reality of our
present that reality demands your acceptance of our right to determine our own programs policies and direction. Games played for power are inexpedient and threaten the very existence of programs. As black students. We are responsible to the immediate needs of our people. Your administrative reservations are undeniably never confront the immediacy of this issue and distort its reality. Therefore the five college black community united in its responsibility to end the games and set forth a more expedient programme of action have accumulated these initial key issues to be enacted following negotiations with citizens of our community. And yes I'd like to emphasize this again that these demands have been presented to all of the other college presidents in the five college community.
Back last year late last year when the Panthers when the panther Fred Hampton was murdered the Afro-American students at Amherst felt the need to do something about this to somehow try to to raise the consciousness of other black students of other black people in this country about the systematic disposal of our political leaders that has been going on. And in order to do this we decided to write a letter to our president Mr. Nixon. And we sent copies of this letter around. To something like twelve hundred or more schools all over the country. And as of right now we have well over 3000 signatures. And this letter goes as follows. Dear Mr. Nixon and associates We the undersigned are here by stating
our concern for the deliberate decimation of our leaders. Ever since the first cry for freedom came from the dehumanized slaves we have been subject to horrifying attacks attempting to suppress our cries. We recognize that the systematic destruction of the Black Panther Party is merely the latest move in this continual attempt of blatant physical and mental subjugation. As human beings we totally denounce the city risking as black people we begin to ask what can be good what can be done to stop this planned political genocide. For it cannot and will not be tolerated. If this mild attempt proves futile then we should lead to more stringent measures to achieve our goals for what we are about. In general is our liberation. But more deeply our survival. We shall not plead our constitutional rights for fear of being politically gagged and incarcerated. Instead we the black people of this country demand the immediate cessation of all attacks on the black community.
Furthermore we insist that compliance with our demand be publicly stated before there can be no true and that which passes over injustice and silence. One of the other main parts of the demands presented to the various college presidents today was if our college bridge program. And you know the the bridge program has been geared toward the academic development of students who have finished high school and have been accepted in college. But you know big because of the destructive education systems in this country that are designed to cripple the minds of black. They have to somehow felt that their survival in college competition might not be at all assured if they did not receive some sort of assistance during the summer. And so. We have been dissatisfied with the bridge program the way it has been run in the past and the principal
reason we are dissatisfied with it is that there has been no attempt in the in the British programme towards the cycle of cultural development of the black student. That is there's been no attempt to. There's been no attempt to prepare black students so that they will be able to control their own destiny and realities and be able to determine their destiny and their realities from a knowledge of the history of black people in this country. And in order to do this we would like to have for the governing board of the British program and all we would like to have the governing board of the bridge program be all black. That is the substance of that letter. And finally I'd like to give a statement on college black studies which in a sense sums up the whole meaning of this enterprise today.
The plight of the black student community of the five college area have been articulating a unified position concerning the establishment and development of Afro-American Studies in this area. And we wish to take this opportunity to again articulate the feelings of a united black student community on what we feel to be the most important aspect of our educational experience. The black community of the United States is and has been for the last hundred years the victim of domestic colonialism imposed on it by the dominant minority the white controlled educational system has served to divide the black community along false lines of class and to co-opt the so-called educated negro from his natural position of service and leadership to the community and the liberation struggle. Furthermore the white Western oriented cultural and politically chauvinist emphasis of American education is not designed for the education of black people who are conscious and aware of their historical relationship to the world black
community. In short the educational practices and philosophy of white America are antithetical to the needs of black people and destructive to the cohesion and awareness which is an is an absolute prerequisite to in its solutions to the problems besetting black people in this century. For this reason we feel that it is the responsibility of colleges in this area to take the necessary steps to reverse this. This historical injustice and institute the programs which will ensure that black students are prepared psychologically and intellectually to undertake the formidable task awaiting them in the black community. This requires that a comprehensive program of black studies be instituted in the five college area. Which will be available as a part of the curriculum of all black students. And when we talk about a comprehensive program we are not talking about one or two warmed over courses in black literature or in black history. We are insisting on a coherent comprehensive institution which involves courses in
every relevant academic discipline as well as community oriented programs of an activist nature. The five colleges say that they agree in principle to such a program. Yet they seem determined to set out to set up at some later date. Individual uncoordinated token programs which will represent only token gestures of appeasement rather than a real commitment to the innovative program of like education. And because we do not believe that it is possible to recruit to each of these five campuses the numbers of committed black faculty which are necessary for any serious program. We feel that the whole black studies. Program in this five college area must be done on a five college basis. We see no reason to to get a whole bunch of black faculty at Amherst and then duplicate that skill over at UMass and again at Smith and again in my whole year and over again even at Hampshire College. And we feel that the content and academic
scope of such a black studies program of such a five college co-operative black studies program program can be counted on the proposal now pending action badly by the administration of the University of Massachusetts. We feel that anything less than the commitment we are calling for will be unacceptable and evidence of the absence of any serious commitment to the educational needs of black students on the part of the five colleges the failure to seriously undertake this program will be evident that these schools are not committed to correcting their historical record of indifference and the glare of the black community and its educational needs. You see what has happened in the five college area. The same kind of system that is operated historically with black people in this country is that we've been historically systematically divided and because a brother and a sister may go to you. You may Mount Holyoke.
Hammers or any other colleges in the fact college area doesn't make any difference. That doesn't mean that they're any different. One of the all black people and what I'd like to speak to is one of the purposes of the demonstration that it's not going on. The purpose of the dumbest one of the purpose of the demonstration is for unity and solidarity with all black people in the five college area and all black people in the world. And just because a brother and sister is in college doesn't mean that he's forgotten that brother and sister at home who didn't make it a Will who won't make it. And I think that the brothers and sisters up here have realized that if we have to take the responsibility of making sure that when brothers and sisters who come to college and who hold college graduates responsible for the destiny that we have to be together. What's happened before the demonstration is that we've had a situation where we've tried to confront the administration. We've approached them in terms of negotiations.
We approach them in terms of meetings. We've tried to sit down and talk. There seems to be a communication problem. Terms of language in terms of the memos that have gone out to the administrations. So I think that was quite necessary at this point because in a demonstration of this nature. The thing that's important about coming to college is those things which are reflected by the college campus and those things that a college campus expects you to do do not necessarily meet the needs of black people not only those in college but those who are outside of the college. So one of the things that has to happen in the five college area what has to happen with all colleges and universities where there are black students is that there has to be a power transfer taking place. That is that there are situations where they have instructors they have. Courses they have materials and they have resources that have not met the needs of black people. They have not met the needs of black people historically and they can't meet the needs of black people in the future in terms of situation that we have now. And so because of the failure on the part of the administration and some parts
on the failure on the part of black students who have gone through college and have been able to deal with the problems that exist in the ghetto and exist in the world we're saying at this point. Is that we intend to break this vicious cycle that's existing in the colleges. We're very open to communicating with the university. Hopefully they'll read our demands and will respond to one. But let me say at this point it may be that things have to be taken to another level. Things may have to be taken to another level. If this means of communication has not been responded to. That student a man who you are actively involved in a coordinated effort of the community to establish viable educational programs that speak to the needs of the black student community and indeed to the needs of the entire broader black community.
The grievances that we have against the administrative body a manhole you grow out of the colleges lack of medical attention to those needs regarding the college's financial aid policy. We feel that the present policy functions more to restrain and stigmatize black students than it does to expand the student's ability to participate fully in the quote experience. The admissions policy of the college we believe to be in adequate to realize our concept of what is involved in such questions as student recruitment and standards of acceptability. The colleges response to our express need for Black Studies has been apathetic and virtually without any relevance to the actual need. Finally we have experienced total frustration with the cowardice prate flagrant abuse of the guideline of the summer program. Those guidelines being essential to the proper functioning of that program which had its origins in the manhole yo black community. With the summer program. As with the other issues
mentioned the colleges used our name that is the Kumbh concept sb. black student participation to lend legitimacy to essentially illegitimate programs and policies. We the black student community will no longer allow our sales to be used as a percent of a star that has behavior that is insulting and and that is indeed dangerous to the black community. The saga of the Susan Smith is basically one of the past our demands are based as a result of last year's demands or rather the non-response of the administration to lash Eastlands we presented to the administration demands last year for admissions financial aid in other areas and we were given the
runaround and watered down interpretations dodging them as unanswered. But one thing that we did learn was that just to point out our demands is not enough rather than we have the responsibility to see that they got carried out so that this here we are not only present in our demands from a check from them and say that Smith is responsible for saying not only that the administration follows those demands but that they are carried out according to our wishes. He asked citizens of the five cards for our community our grievances to share in common. They deal with admission this financial aid but the housing of our students in consideration of the race racist attitudes of the house mothers and soon it's in those houses the cultural center. But funding for the black organization on campus and with black
Saudis. I will speak to the particular grievances of the brothers at Amherst and like Smith said. Primarily our grievances come out of. Type of thing that was not left over from last year. Because basically we issued the same we proposed the same thing last year. It's just that was such a flagrant neglect. Of our demands of whatever. And the first problem first of all the missions and last year perhaps a year before people said well Amherst we want more black students you know we want you to make some type of significant change. So get more black students here. And even using an unusual contemporaneous measuring rod. Compared to west compare Emirates to Westley and dark brown it is falls way behind in terms of
recruiting. And that meeting black students and that's not a very good mechanistic at all. And the peculiar thing about the situation is that amorous argues that we don't have a quota system or anything like that for blacks but. In the last two years blacks have been refused not been admitted because of qualified blacks quote qualified blacks have not been admitted because of some type of planes of a lack of enough financial aid or we can only appropriate so much of our financial aid budget for black students. And this is indeed you know a sort of species and. Really terrible quota system subtle though it may be because you know numbers can very well say that you know or take matters that. Are in financial priorities where black students are given preference. And you so for want of a better
turn up time I'll say compensatory. But these ideas have put aside on charges of discrimination you know we got to be fair you know we can say that you know black students get half of the financial aid budget and whatever. And surely using the unusual measuring rod that I use a moment ago Amherst is not even less capable than these other institutions to provide funds in fact maybe even much more capable in many cases than these other institutions. Basically demands this year. Concern again. Definite requesting a definite definite number a definite percentage of the class of 1974 and future classes to be black students and that the missions office and the financial aid office that the admissions office set aside for Bonds to be used
specifically by black students in their recruitment efforts to get more black students and that money be set aside by the admissions office or by the financial a certain portion of the financial aid budget set aside by the financial. System to ensure a number of. Black students who would not be able to make grammars on the basis of their family income whatever the next and next issue. Primarily it's the Black Culture Center and this is also not the issue that we try to deal with last year and again I am sorry. Yes we are committed to the idea of a Black Culture Center and all that it stands for. I know for the most part you know we've had so much house playing and there's been so much reluctance and so much rocker ACM
just involved in things just getting furnishings indeed the furnishings are just beginning to rot to arrive now and the black studies the Black Culture Center they were committed to it last year this time before and there have been so many so many problems in obtaining books and various things that I thought I really needed to make the cultural center. Significant and this time we're demanding that they set aside a budget and then don't budget expandable for a future in the high cost of living and all that type stuff. For these various things that will make it worse by cultures like the. Like everyone else. The five college access program again you spoke of. Black says from when I was last year and. For the most part I think that most people are aware of the critical state the failure of whatever the fiasco of the
average black studies program because it is really very little very little really ridiculous in a sense and the final thing concerns the summer programs and several of the people spoken about the apparent. Why Western cultural orientation of these programs. This is a problem we've seen that these programs are among the most effective problems that somehow these programs must be controlled and government by people so that the proper quarter per spectrum can be given to these programs. The black students at the University of Massachusetts are pursuing this action along with brothers and sisters from other colleges for a number of reasons. First of all we have to demonstrate to the college establishment that the black community will in future be acting as a unified man.
Issues affecting any black person five college areas. We have to take you once more the needs and grievances of that part of the black community which is located at the University of Massachusetts. We demand immediate acceptance and implementation of proposal for Afro-American Studies Department which is pending action by the university. There should be no qualifications for further delay. We further demand the immediate establishment of a cultural center to serve the needs of the black community. Negotiations on this question have been dragging on since 1968. We will accept MIL's house for this purpose. We also demand that the university double its commitment to the service program. We call on the administration and trustees of the university to double the enrollment of black students at the university for the 1971 school year. Even with the section the black student representation at the University of Massachusetts campus will be this poor disproportionately small as a
consequence of the history of exclusion of blacks from this campus. We'll take questions. From. The various new questions. Just curious you know workers are. Around. 30 30 percent of the vote and you want to figure out which is right. Basically yes we basically agree that we think we are sufficient in the fight for workers here. Between I guess. Perhaps two thirds or something like that say unlike quite.
You your reaction to. What's good and. What's the use of the. Word. Well you know we can make a prediction I mean in fact we won't even deal in that area. You know how white students are going to react. You see because just like the administration you know the white students fanned out early you know to see these kinds of things come about. You know what their reaction is I don't know don't care. We don't know one thing. Could you repeat your question. Right here in you for. Releasing your vision we don't know.
You. You can write it. You. May very well be. So what. Do you want me. To do for a. Day. But it's not really you know I don't. Know. But we identify ourselves with black students in the five college area.
Not only. Are they more sensible questions. You know. You know. And even our it's not our. Time. No you know part of the question is if we've been organized for over a period of time you. Know you know we don't. Speak to that question is that black students have been on the five college areas. I mean in fact colleges you know for many years and you know by virtue of the black people you know being together any time any place you know. You know I would answer your question you know that we organize we just surfaced. What. Do we need anything like food to. Move through the literature. What. Can you please consume that nerve.
Vision. I was not a question. I just like to. Offer. Them. Some things that will. Probably be happening in the future. We present our demands to the five college presidents. And we intend to do from this point on is that members from the black community from the five college areas will be pressing our demands if we feel that the administrations are not responsive. Then it's quite possible that we will have to pressure each and even aversive the individual not the action that took place. Last night. Happened on Evers College campus which is very symbolic in terms of the attitude and other behavior that the administration from Amherst has been presented to the students. But that is not to say that we will not move from here the University of Massachusetts. To Smith to Mount Holyoke and to Hampshire College when it opens up. If the. University is not receptive to the demands of black people in terms of situation that exist here in the
valley we have no plans to talk to a T W this way. They have nothing nothing from its let alone. Even It has been done to simulate terms of years prior to becoming a man. Right. Now people have less and. No one has dealt with nothing. You know I have two questions over the phone down to the man who talks like you know you said here the conversation is going to run for a while. You feed your person if you call her is one thing. You don't demand you never call him you only want to have some sort of a symbolic show maybe they will take this for real. What happens if the other call you do not get your man. Moment. I've answered that question I'm saying that first of all let me clarify me tell you what
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Raw Footage of a Press Conference by Five College African American Society Representatives
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New England Public Radio (Amherst, Massachusetts)
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Broadcast on WAMF of a press conference held by students from the Five College African American societies, at the time of the occupation of key buildings at Amherst College by African American students. The students provided an overview of the demands that were presented to the presidents of the five colleges, which included the development of African American studies, changes to financial aid and admission policies, and changes to the operation of the Five College Bridge Program. The students concluded by answering questions from the audience.
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Identifier: 198.11 (SCUA)
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Duration: 00:31:40
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Chicago: “ Raw Footage of a Press Conference by Five College African American Society Representatives ,” 1970-02-18, New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 15, 2019,
MLA: “ Raw Footage of a Press Conference by Five College African American Society Representatives .” 1970-02-18. New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 15, 2019. <>.
APA: Raw Footage of a Press Conference by Five College African American Society Representatives . Boston, MA: New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from