Theses Doctoral

For Alma Mater: Fighting for Change at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Alford, James Edward

The contributions that Black Americans made towards advancing their own educational institutions have often been overlooked. These men and women were quite instrumental in developing, organizing and determining the future direction of their own schools. From 1920 to 1950, a shift in attitudes and culture began to take shape at Black colleges and universities concerning more student autonomy and more alumni involvement. This shift in attitude was primarily due to Black students and alumni who rebelled against the paternalistic White power structure that existed at their schools. At the core of this conflict, stood frustrated students and alumni petitioning their predominately White Boards of Trustees/administration to recognize their status as institutional stakeholders. This dissertation focuses on alumni and student activism at three HBCUs, Lincoln University, Fisk University, and Hampton Institute, between 1920 and 1950. What will be examined in this study is the role that Black alumni and Black students played in waging a campaign against White administrators to bring about institutional change at these three schools. Additional points of inquiry are 1) Who were the institutional stakeholders and what were their goals, 2) How did alumni and student activism influence administrative change, and 3) What compromises were made at these three schools to address students and alumni concerns? There are no in-depth historical studies regarding student and alumni activism at HBCUs during this period in Black higher education. The absence in the literature is particularly unfortunate because the period between 1920 and 1950 was an important time in the development of historically Black colleges and universities. An examination of the protests on Lincoln's, Fisk's, and Hampton's campuses can help to illuminate some of the issues that HBCUs were wrestling with during the wave of campus unrest that swept the country between1920 and 1950.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
History and Education
Thesis Advisors
Waite, Cally Lyn
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 30, 2013