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History Department

Race Relations at Kalamazoo College -- Learning in Black and White


The following articles, from the Kalamazoo College newspaper, provide historical context for race relations at Hanover College.

T. M. N., "Injustice By The Just," Kalamazoo College Index, 21 Feb. 1962, p. 2.

A recent release from the USNSA News told in detail of unrest at the University of Chicago stemming from an admission by the U of C administration that Negroes were not permitted to live in several housing units owned by the university. Confronted by members of the Student Government and the Congress of Racial Equality on January 16 with evidence gathered from six apparent cases of discrimination in housing applications, George W. Beadle, university president, stated, "we are proceeding as fast as we can to attain integration as soon as we can. The purpose of the University is to eventually attain stable integration in all phases of community life. We must achieve this at a rate that is tolerable as far as all the people involved are concerned."

The Student Government president quickly issued a statement studded with words such as deplore, shocking, disgraceful, and immoral. On January 17 the chairman of the campus chapter of CORE issued a policy statement urging the administration to "state publicly that the University of Chicago will not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or creed in the renting, leasing, administering, or selling of any property that is owned or controlled by it." The statement also urged the university to "refrain from supporting any other realtor who discriminates on the basis of race, religion, or creed.

Six days later CORE initiated a series of sit-ins outside the president's office. Meanwhile the SG president via the dean of students asked the president: "Is the university willing to discuss changes in its rental policy?" The answer made to the CORE chairman by way of the dean: "I understand the question has been asked as to whether the University is willing to discuss the possibility of change in its policy. The answer is yes. The tradition of discussion of important issues among faculty, administration and students is a long-standing and valuable one at the University of Chicago." The CORE man was quick to reply, again through the dean, that "change" and not "the possibility of change" was the concern.

The situation was complicated by four sit-ins (and four arrests) at the University Realty Corporation, private business. On February 5, President Beadle announced that any other students sitting-in would be suspended from the University. CORE had planned to call off sit-ins the next day. Some time later Beadle attended a CORE meeting and told the group he was getting up a representative committee to study university housing policies.

Admittedly a three-page news release may pass over some important background information. From what is given, however, I would commend the president for his control in the matter. The repeated student action appears contrary to any motion of constructive action. Communication through the dean of students was awkward at best.

One gets the impression that the students intruded suddenly upon an issue which had a long history and expected that all injustice be cleared up by the week's end. The desire to diminish a person (Beadle) while trying to correct the housing problem strikes me as uncalled for and contrary to their purpose. Repeated assault appeared to be an effort to prevent the administration from standing up to a second party in the discussion over this problem. The students seemed to want to be too influential in this matter. A desire for self-aggrandizement, a desire for a one-sided solution, a hesitancy to allow this to become anything but a one-sided solution are all apparent. The end result, study of policies, could have been attained before the awkward public exchange took place.

Since administration officials have life-time careers at stake, a tendency toward slow movement can be understood if not condoned. Since students have but four years to improve their college environment, a desire for quick action can be appreciated. Yet this does not excuse the awkward conventions in human relations which students so often adopt. -- T. M. N.

This article is one that students in His234 "Studies in American Cultural History" selected to illustrate race relations at predominantly white colleges and universities in the Midwest. It is a transcription of the text as it appears in the digital version of the Index. For more on Kalamazoo College, see their "College History."

Dave Harrison, "Black Power Struggle Interpreted," Kalamazoo College Index, 5 May 1967, p. 1.

Dean David Woodyard's chapel lecture Monday on "A Whitewash of Black Power" contained perhaps the most objective and coherent explanation of the concept of black power that a white man could be expected to be able to make. The problems involved with the speech, however, were basic - someone who hasn't felt or experienced something will necessarily have difficulties relating that feeling to an audience. Woodyard, Dean of Chapel at Denison University, realized the problem, and likened his telling a white audience what black power means to him to Barry Goldwater defending Wayne Morse's views to Lyndon Johnson.

Aside from these important limitations on his subject matter, Woodyard's address must be judged as excellent, well-delivered, and easily the most captivating so far this quarter. The speech's base was found in Woodyard's familiarity with the writings and speeches of Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King and Floyd McKissick.

Dean Woodyard pointed out that the decline of popularity of the civil rights movement on college campuses is signalling the death throes of the movement as we know it. Civil rights has gone through a change of emphasis and philosophy. Black power, according to the chapel speaker, "signifies the end of the days of polite requests" - an aggressiveness by the Negro toward the changing of the present day social structure has come, Black power, the new emphasis in civil rights, means the Negro setting himself up as a political, social and economic force and using power to liberate himself, recognizing not that "might makes right," but that "might protects rights."

The basic problem to be solved is not discrimination; it is what Stokely Carmichael calls "institutionalized racism":  the maceration of the human dignity of the Negro, the white man attempting to make the Negro feel he should be ashamed to be black. As Dean Woodyard so correctly states, "When you tell a person a lie about himself enough he'll finally believe it to be true."

Black power means the Negro denial of an identity assigned to him by the white man. It means the Negro attempting through power to change the circumstances under which he has been forced to live. The use of black power may not change the white man's values, hut it can restrain his behavior. The Negro will no longer have to beg for his rights; he will negotiate for them with strength.

Woodyard's interpretation of black power includes neither racism nor black nationalism. It is simply the recognition of a group of human beings who have come of age, who are attempting to gain a sense of pride in themselves that the white man has withheld from them. The term black power may scare us, but only because it says more about white guilt than political oppression by Negroes.

From the white liberal who contributed much to the old style civil rights movement, the Negro no longer wants nor needs patronizing advice on how to go about things slowly so as not to offend too many people. The best the liberal can do is to understand the black power movement for what it really is and what it hopes to accomplish, and, as Dean David Woodyard says, he can hope and work for the day, however distant, when the Negro and the white man can lock arms and sing, "We have overcome."

This article is one that students in His234 "Studies in American Cultural History" selected to illustrate race relations at predominantly white colleges and universities in the Midwest. It is a transcription of the text as it appears in the digital version of the Index. For more on Kalamazoo College, see their "College History."

Kim Ridenour, "Carmichael Sways Crowds' Emotions," Kalamazoo College Index, 26 May 1967, p. 1.

There was a lot of feeling erupting at the Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids Wednesday night, May 17, but whenever Stokely Carmichael hit upon a surprisingly stark truth, there was an odd silence among both Negroes and whites in his audience.

A capacity crowd swelled the old church as Carmichael, former SNCC chairman and champion of Black Power, expounded his concepts of the racial problem in the U.S. A forceful and dynamic speaker, Carmichael repeatedly exhibited his ability to arouse and dominate the emotions of his audience. His complete control was demonstrated by the vocal agreements, amens, and you'd-better-believe-its which continually issued from the crowd.

Viet Nam, Black Power, American education, and violence were the hot topics. Somehow, in less than an hour and a half, Carmichael managed to turn everything in American into a question of white supremacy. His logic, geared to the emotion other than to the intellect, holds for the listener only as long as he is under the former SNCC chairman's trance. Once he is away from the speaker's influence, the logic begins to crumble and a vague feeling of frustration results. Finally the white listener realizes that his frustration is due to the fact that the very things in the U.S. which Carmichael condemns are the same things he is employing for their eradication.

This not true for the Negro listener, who quickly identifies with Carmichael and who feels the emotional impact of the speech more strongly and lastingly than the white listener. This difference is the key to the value of the speech and the only thing which gives it a positive worth. Beneath Carmichael's obnoxious statements and conflicting logic lies his concerns for the Negroes and his sincere solutions for their problems.

Carmichael's speech was structured around several concepts (his own) which he believes to be the main principles involved in the struggle for Black Power, which he defines to be the coming together of black people to fight for their liberation by any means necessary. The first concept concerns his idea of self-condemnation and boils down to this: it is impossible for someone to condemn himself because he would have to punish himself. The same reasoning applies to a nation. The U.S. Carmichael rates, is the world oppressor of black people, yet if the U.S. were to condemn itself, she would have to commit suicide and that might not be a bad idea, he hastens to add! Therefore, the only alternative is for the U.S. to fail to recognize her racism.

A second concept revolves around freedom. No man can give any other man his freedom, Carmichael says, because all men are born free, but men can enslave other men and this has been happening since time began. Furthermore, the whites have always been the oppressors; the whites are uncivilized. Here he chalked up one of his blunt points: "The Civil Rights Law was for the whites, not for us; because it civilized them. We know we could live where we wanted and work where we wanted, it was them that didn't know it!"

Carmichael spent considerable time with his idea of the power of definition. He reasons that white Western society defines everyone and everything and therefore can dictate the behavior of others. For example, in America's earliest history of white success over the Indians was termed a "victory," while an Indian defeat of the whites was termed a massacre." The same labelling can be applied today in Viet Nam. Carmichael stated that in the past the whites could make the Negroes react to such definitions, always managing to put the Negroes in the wrong. Now it's time for the Negroes to get their own definitions to protect themselves from future blackmail, shame, and exploitation.

One of the most arousing and to-the point portions the speech concerned "the lies them whites have told us." Carmichael shouted, "The biggest lie that the whites ever told us is that we are lazy. We're lazy? Look at them. They went to Africa to get us to do their work! And another lie: "If you work hard, you will succeed . . . . If that were true," he went on, "we'd own the U.S. lock, stock and barrel! Who are the garbage men, the street cleaners, the chambermaids, the janitors? We are! We are the hardest working and lowest-paid people in the U.S.!"

Success, Carmichael feels, is -- not a question of education but of who is in control. U.S. education is slanted against the Negro anyway, he says, pointing out examples for Dick, Jane, and Sally to the history of Africa as his proof. "They lie about our history." He claimed. "They've cut off our ties with Africa -- won't recognize our beginning. And you know as well as I do that a people with a history is like a tree with roots. What do you read about in school? Rome -- Greece -- what about Africa? Hannibal was an African and he bombed the Romans to pieces." White education, he finished does not recognize any Negroes beyond George Washington Carver and Brooker T. Washington.

"The whites move with the assumption that they're superior," he went on. "The whites are still uncivilized but they think they're God's gift to humanity, trying to civilize everybody else. They call us savages. Look up the definition of savage and then check the U.S. out in Viet Nam!"

Carmichael then proceeded to outline a plan for Negro retaliation. First, the Negro must recognize his own culture and background and feel he has a right to be proud of it. This is essential, Carmichael feels, to any people. Second, the Negro must increase his self-identity and self-pride. "They've tried to make us ashamed of ourselves and you know something? They've succeeded. We've tried to imitate them and be as white as we can. . . What is beauty? You see it on the television -- white skin and stringy hair. They won't believe we can be beautiful . . . But we are black and beautiful. The wind and rain can't do nothing to our curls!"

Finally, whites must be made to realize that the Negroes are united -- that there is a real black organization -- that when a white touches one black, he touches all. "This is our only salvation . . . we've got to hustle as a group." The Negro must fight back now with all his strength. Carmichael quoted Frederick Douglas to drive home his point: "If a slave wants to remain a slave, he must listen to his master." Then he quoted Christ: "Where there is injustice there shall be no peace."

The solution to the Negro oppression is therefore three-fold: 1. De-whitewash the Negroes by giving them self-pride. 2. Resurrect the Negro culture. 3. Establish a strong group organization.

Carmichael concluded his speech by promising one helluva summer for everybody.

This article is one that students in His234 "Studies in American Cultural History" selected to illustrate race relations at predominantly white colleges and universities in the Midwest. It is a transcription of the text as it appears in the digital version of the Index, and ellipses are original to the article. For more on Kalamazoo College, see their "College History."