A history of race and activism on campus

A crowd greets leaders of the Black Action Movement as they announce the Regents' decision to accept the goal of ten percent Black enrollment and employment on April 1, 1970.

A crowd greets leaders of the Black Action Movement as they announce the Regents' decision to accept the goal of ten percent Black enrollment and employment on April 1, 1970.
Jim Diehl/Daily

 

Sunday, September 27, 2015 - 6:51pm

1817: At Fort Meigs, Ohio: A treaty is reached between Michigan’s Territorial Governor, Lewis Cass, and Native American Tribes (Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomy). Cass persuades Native Americans to give 3,840 acres of land in exchange for Native Americans becoming eligible to enroll at the University. Native Americans are never allowed to enroll and sue the University in 1971, but lose their case as the court ruled that the land grant was a “gift.” 

1929: The University’s Board of Regents proposes University-run housing for African-American women on Glen Avenue. African-American women activists, seeing this as segregation, protest, and the proposal is dropped.

1934: African-American student Jean Blackwell claims she was denied residency at Martha Cook Residence Hall because of race, despite meeting the academic requirements of holding a B average, and despite there being vacancies.

1949: Orval Wardell Johnson is the first non-white student elected LSA senior class president, beating out a white football player for the spot. 

1968: The Black Student Union takes over the Administration Building, now the LSA Building, in protest. Their demands include more scholarship funding for African-American students and more faculty members who are African American.

1970: The Center for Afroamerican and African Studies forms in response to the BSU takeover. In this same year, the Black Action Movement organizes a 12-day shut-down, which includes hundreds of classes cancelled, and results in University President Robben Wright Fleming agreeing to work to reach 10-percent African-American enrollment by 1973. This goal was not met.

1971: The William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center opens as a result of the Black Action Movement strike throughout campus, and continues to be the only University building named after a person of color.

1976: Public Act 174, also known as the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver Program, is established in response to Children of the Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomy Tribes v. The Regents of the University of Michigan of 1971, and allows waives tuition for those who are at least 1/4th Native American.

1983: Native American Studies program is founded within American Culture. (First graduate of program was in 2004.)

1987: United Coalition Against Racism and the University of Michigan Asian Student Coalition are both formed. 

1992: The highest point of minority undergraduate enrollment occurs in this year, at 21.4 percent.

2000: The Students of Color Coalition occupies the office of Michigamua, a secret society of senior students, now known as Order of Angell, following a name change in 2006, in the Michigan Union. They protest the appropriation of Native-American culture, along with a history of excluding minority students and women.  

2003: Gratz v. Bollinger: U.S. Supreme Court rules that the University’s affirmative action policy — which awarded points to applicants who came from underrepresented minorities — is unconstitutional for a state school. 

2003: Grutter v. Bollinger: Supreme Court upholds the University of Michigan Law School’s admission policy which considers race and ethnicity in its applications, among many other factors, but does not give a distinct advantage on the sole basis of race.

2006: Proposal 2 adopted by Michigan voters. The proposal amends the Michigan Constitution to ban public institutions from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public education, public employment, or public contracting. Proposal 2 is later challenged in federal court, but was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States.

2013: On July 18, the University’s Board of Regents passes a proposal to extend in-state tuition rates to U.S. military veterans and undocumented students who graduated and attended a Michigan middle school for three years and a Michigan high school for at least two years.   

2014: The #BBUM movement, which was started by students on Twitter in response to a poor racial climate on campus, makes national headlines. Later this year, the #UMDivest movement seeks an agreement from the University to divest from companies allegedly involved in human rights violations against Palestinians.    

2015: Reports from Fall 2014 enrollment data show that non-white students make up 34.04 percent of all students on campus.  

This timeline was compiled using the work of University Library MLK Planning Committee of their exhibit which came out in 2014.