What does it mean to recognize that change is needed? And then how can you make significant change? What benefits are realized and at what cost? Thanks to a grant received from the Council of Independent Colleges, Springfield College students have had an opportunity to contemplate these questions.
Working under the supervision of Associate Professor of History Ian Delahanty, College Archivist Jeff Monseau, and Vice President for Communications and External Affairs Stephen Roulier, student researchers Isabella Bruns, Jack Duignan, Emily Gentile, Sabrina Moore, and Sabrina Williams pored through archival documents and photographs, listened to dozens of hours of oral history interviews, and collaborated throughout the fall and winter of 2021-22 to produce this exhibit. Their work was generously supported by the “Humanities Research for the Public Good” grant program of the Council of Independent Colleges. In the fall of 2021, students in Professor Delahanty’s class, Making History Public, contributed essential research and insight into the project.
The scholars explored Black student activism and protests on the Springfield College campus during the period 1969-1970. A tumultuous time for the United States, with a war in Vietnam and civil disobedience pushing the American population to rethink the status quo in favor of a more equitable society, Black Springfield College students and allies stood up for their right to equal representation at their school.
Until recently, this brief but formative period of student activism was largely forgotten or unacknowledged at the College, the contemporary students reported. In 2020, many of the alumni and former students who mobilized to make the institution more inclusive for Black students in the late 1960s reunited as the Legacy Alumni of Color group. Over the past year and a half, their commitment to improving the circumstances of students of color at Springfield College has helped to sustain current students working to bring about a more inclusive, racially just College community.