Northwestern University announced today it is making funding available for student groups and academic units planning events this academic year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first major sit-in at the school in May 1968.

On May 3, 1968, more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students occupied the Bursar’s Office. The peaceful 36-hour occupation ended with university leaders committing to enhance services and support for black students related to admissions, scholarships, housing, curriculum, counseling and facilities — which led to the creation of the African American Studies Department and the establishment of the Black House.

The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion is leading the University’s year-long celebration of the historic event, in partnership with the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association.

The University’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion is offering funding of up to $2,500 to support events and programming related to commemoration of the takeover.

To be eligible for funding, an event or program must have an educational or inspirational mission directly related to the 50th anniversary and take place between February and May this year.

Funding applications will be accepted through April 30.

In a new video focused on the history of the Bursar’s Office Takeover, Charla Wilson, archivist for the black experience at Northwestern, tells the story of the events surrounding the takeover in May of 1968, including visual and audio records of the protest.

YouTube video

Northwestern will honor this important milestone with an array of events that will culminate in a series of programs in May. A full list of programming can be viewed on the 50th Anniversary Commemoration website.

Join the Conversation


  1. Living in the past

    NU continues to celebrate–no worship—recent past events. It can’t seem to live in today. As someone said people/groups who live in the past, are confined to never escape it. Past wrongs are to be remembered but only those who say “it was bad/wrong, but then realize they have to live in today are likely to get anywhere.” Instead of getting students, esp. minorities, to get an education in fields that will get them somewhere, they encourage [fill-in-the-blank] ethnic studies. Liberal arts [not ‘liberal’/’progressive”] education is needed but that is not what is given—they are given victimology and “there is only one right way” [the liberal side of every issue and subject. I would not be surprised if before long only the “Progressive” view of Mathematics will be taught.

  2. A lot of protests going on
    Northwestern students in 1968 held a protest of Dow Chemical recruiting on campus. The dean did support them. Will there be a 50th celebration of fighting a company that produced napalm?

    Did Northwestern mark the 50th anniversary last year of the university’s first anti-war rally in 1967 in the form of a Viet Nam teach-in? No? How come?

    Will Northwestern hold a 50th anniversary in 2020 for the 1970 medical students sit in, protesting the compulsory draft of medical school students to the army?

    I wonder in 49 years will Northwestern students celebrate the student protesters shutting down a sociology class after a professor invited an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) public relations officer to be a guest speaker.

    Let’s not forget when students in 2016 marched outside President Shaprio’s home and chanted Morty, come outside!” and “No justice, no peace!” — listing demands and calling on Schapiro to pressure the Board of Trustees to “divest from corporations profiting off human rights violations,” especially those operating in Palestine.

    Well, maybe with all the billions Northwestern has the university can create the Department of Public Outrage and Protests. The dean would be called the Minister of Social Justice. This way, more money will be donated to glorify and promote the art of protesting – building takeovers, marches, sit-ins, riots, teach-ins, shout downs and so on. Maybe even hold “a day without white people” on campus, just like Evergreen College, or issue new guidelines eliminating references to men and women, male and female, just like Princeton did.

    On the other hand, things could boomerang for these idealistic protesting whipper snappers. Princeton students of the Black Justice League staged a 32-hour protest and sit-in at Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber’s office, demanding the university to do away with President Woodrow Wilson’s name because of his racist legacy. But Princeton’s board of trustees voted to retain Woodrow Wilson’s name on its public-policy school and a residential college.

    Be not disappointed my outraged demanding victims, there are plenty of history books to rewrite and statues to tear down.

  3. “It was the best of times…”
    I like these remembrances. As an “old man” I look back in awe of what took place during the late 1960’s, at my youth, my stupidity/intelligence, the certainty that within my lifetime the totality of life would be fair to all people in all countries and cancer would be as rare as polio. As the lyrics to the Byrd’s song goes “but I was so much older then, I’m younger then than now.”

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