On Jan. 14, 1969, Black students, boiling with frustration from neglect and discrimination by the university’s faculty and administration, took over Morrill Hall at the University of Minnesota.
Before the takeover, African-American students could not stay in university dormitories or join fraternities and sororities. Black students felt there were no incentives tailored for their experience. Fed up with being ignored, they formed the Afro-American Action Committee. The group, led by student John Wright, listed demands and presented them at a meeting with the university’s president and officials. The students issued a 24-hour deadline for action on the administration’s behalf.
When the deadline passed, seven students walked into Morrill Hall and refused to leave until changes were made. The siege lasted two days.
This event led to the forming of the institution’s Martin Luther King Program and Afro Studies Department, where Wright is now a professor.
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(Photo: Courtesy University of Minnesota)