70 black students close Morrill Hall

Editor’s note: Feb 2, 2011 – This is the second article in a series on black history at the U.

Unidentified black demonstrator walks out of the bursars office in Morrill Hall yesterday after between 700 and 100 of his fellow black students closed down the office.

Image by Ted Hammond

Unidentified black demonstrator walks out of the bursar’s office in Morrill Hall yesterday after between 700 and 100 of his fellow black students closed down the office.

by Keith Kellogg

Between 70 and 100 black students walked into the Office of Admissions and Records in Morrill Hall yesterday afternoon and threatened to stay until their three demands of the previous day are met. A group of administrators, faculty, and students met later in the afternoon to discuss the UniversityâÄôs demonstration policy, but they did not reach a decision on implementation.

AT A PRESS conference after that meeting, Elmer Learn, planning director and executive assistant to the president, said he did not know when a decision about the demonstration policy might be made. But he said he hopes that âÄúwe will be able to provide an accommodation and in so doing the office downstairs will be released.âÄù

Discussions among administrators, faculty, student leaders, and black students over the three demands were continuing last night as Stanley Kegler, assistant vice president for educational relationships and development, said âÄúWeâÄôre not going to do anything (about the blacks in Morrill) as long as weâÄôre talking.âÄù

Negotiations between the administration and the black students broke off at about 1 a.m. this morning and are expected to resume at 9 a.m.  Pres. Malcolm Moos signed a document which contained administrative responded to the black demands. The AAAC rejected all three responses.

Vice Pres. For Administration Donald Smith called the administrationâÄôs statement âÄúaffirmative and potentially very productive.âÄù He would not disclose its contents, however.

Approximately 60 Students black and white, planned to remain in Morrill Hall throughout the night.

By late last night blacks had stationed guards at all doors to Morrill and were admitting only selected persons, including some whites.

At about 10:30 p.m. members of Students for a Democratic Society, (SDS) and some other predominantly white groups joined the blacks in Morrill. Before that, members of SDS had been reported soliciting donations in Dinkytown to buy food for the occupiers.

THE OCCUPATION of MorrillâÄôs first floor began about 1:30 p.m. yesterday after a half-hour meeting over the demands between members of the Afro-American Action Committee (AAAC) and Pres. Malcolm Moos and other administrators. AAAC members had set a 1 p.m. deadline on meeting the demands.

The demands are that the University defray one-half the cost of a proposed black conference estimated to cost at least $8,000;

That a department for Afro-American studies be established by the fall of 1969, and that the AAAC have control of the committee planning the department;

And that the budget of the Martin Luther Kind Jr. scholarship fund be placed in the hands of an agency in the black community that would determine which underprivileged students receive scholarships.

EVIDENTLY unsatisfied over responses to their demands, the students left the RegentsâÄô Room on the second floor of Morrill and walked down some stairs and into the Office of Admissions and Records.

Closing the two double doors of the big room where students register, obtain transcripts, and pay tuition, blacks announced that while persons would be permitted to leave, no one would be permitted to enter.

Rose Mary Freeman, president of AAAC, was asked if the blacks had given Moos enough time to respond to their demands.

âÄúWE GAVE THE president adequate time,âÄù she replied. âÄúTwo of these demands were presented a year ago.âÄù She said these two involved the scholarship fund and the Afro-American studies department.

Horace Huntley, one leader of the occupation, declared; âÄúAs black students we feel this University and American have a debt to pay and weâÄôre not willing to wait another 300 years.âÄù

He said he expected 300 to 900 black students from around the country to attend the February black conference, which would have the theme âÄúWhich Way Black Students?âÄù

âÄúIF THE University can pick up thousands of dollars worth of sidewalk and put down new sidewalk âÄì if they can finance that âÄì why canâÄôt they do something for human beings?âÄù he said.

Blacks at first stood guarding the two double doors to the records office and turning away people with the message that the office was closed.

For a time Robert Ross and Matthew Stark of the Student Activities Bureau met people before they could reach the blacks and repeated the same message.

SHORTLY BEFORE  3 p.m., Phillip Upton, a CLA student, fell on his back after a scuffle as he opened one front door aof Morrill that was fastened shut with metal coat hangers. He was treated for a bruised back at the Health Service and released.

According to John Kelly, a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press who claimed to have seen the fall, âÄúa couple of black students pushed him and he fell pretty hard on his back.âÄù

According to a former officer of AAAC who asked not to be identified, âÄúThere was no violence at all. The man tried to rush the door. ItâÄôs very slippery, and he fell.âÄù

GENERALLY the occupation of the first floor of Morrill and virtual closing off the building was accomplished with little show of personal animosity on the part of black students.

At one point James Reeves, coordinator of special programs and the only major black University administrator, stood joking with several of those guarding a door.

âÄúWeâÄôve turned the tables on them,âÄù one black said. âÄúThese doors have always been closed to us. Now weâÄôre closing the doors on them.âÄù

BUT SEVERAL leaders of the protesting group showed anger when photographers attempted to take pictures.

âÄúNo more pictures,âÄù said a persona identifying himself as âÄúJerryâÄù and a student. âÄúThe next flash and youâÄôll be escorted out,âÄù he told two cameramen.

Employers of the records and bursar offices filed out of Morrill about 2 p.m.

Learn said he was hopeful that Admissions and Records would function normally tomorrow.

âÄúDoes that mean youâÄôre hopeful the black students will be gone?âÄù he was asked/

âÄúThatâÄôs right.âÄù