Black Organization of Students(B.O.S.) at Rutgers--Newark Records
Scope and Content Note
The papers of the Black Student Organization (1967-1973) are contained in four manuscript boxes. Boxes one and two are sorted alphabetically, while the contents of the third box are sorted chronologically in two binders.
Within the boxes are papers pertaining to Black Organization of Students' (B.O.S.) listed of demands asked of Rutgers University in February 1969, historical accounts and newspaper clippings (including The New York Times, The Observer and Rutgers Targum) regarding the demands, B.O.S.'s 3-day (Feb. 24-27) occupation of Conklin Hall of Rutgers campus, oppositional student initiatives, and various correspondence occurring during this busy period.
Additional resources include documents of other minority (and other such related) student groups on campus including, Puerto Rican, Italian and Polish American. Also included are documents pertaining to the demand that Robert Swab and C.T. Miller resign as well as the resulting follow-up, including a lawsuit initiated by the two.
Included (in box 3) The Star Ledger newspaper clipping reporting, "Rutgers Opens Its Doors to All Disadvantaged" provided that they hold a high school diploma. Box 4 contains two chronologically sorted binders documenting BOS related activity between February 6 and April 9, 1969.
1.5 Cubic Feet (4 manuscript boxes)
Language of Materials
The Records of the Black Organization of Students (BOS), a student organization established on the Rutgers Newark campus, boxes largely relate to the group's demands for administrative and admission changes in 1969, and include documentation surrounding the takeover of Conklin Hall by BOS members. Also included are records regarding University policy and changes, correspondence from University staff, student groups and community members, newspaper clippings and several articles written by BOS members regarding the "black experience" at Rutgers University.
<emph render="bold">Historical Note of the Black Organization of Students</emph>
The Black Organization of Students (BOS) was founded by Rutgers University-Newark students Richard Roper and Joe Browne during the academic year of 1967 and 1968. Both students were politically active within the city and felt "in their role as students,...obliged to compel the University to recognize that it must serve the black community in Newark". (page 35)
The majority of black students at Rutgers Newark were brought up and lived in the city and felt that the University operated under a white power structure as much as the city did. In July of 1967, racial tensions in Newark peaked, culminating in civic unrest and resulting in an intervention by the National Guard that left 21 black individuals dead.
BOS member Vicki Donaldson believed that the unrest in 1967 "created a climate where there was a need to redefine what was significant" (page 36). For the BOS, change was tangible through the mission "that programs for our Black people will be for Black progress, by Blacks, through black self-help". (page 35)
After learning that of the first one thousand applicants for the following year only twenty-seven were black, the BOS felt that Rutgers Newark, under Acting Dean Malcolm Talbott, was perpetuating the bias and repression against the black community within the University, as were city officials in Newark.
Supported by Faculty Adviser Robert Curvin, in April of 1968 the BOS attended a session of the Rutgers Newark Board of governors, where Roper presented nine "proposals" of the BOS.
The proposals called for the recruitment of more black students and faculty; the establishment of new departments of Urban Affairs, Urban Education, and African Affairs; an interdisciplinary institute to study the Newark community; more black literature in the library; and a scholarship fund for black Newark students.
The BOS redefined their demands. On February 6th, 1969 the BOS interrupted a meeting between Talbott, faculty, and administration and presented Talbott with their new list of twelve demands, including that the Rutgers Board of Governors and the President increase the number of black students accepted into the University, as well as remove the school's Administrative Director and Assistant, Robert K. Swab and C.T. Miller, due to accusations of racist policies. They gave Talbott two weeks to respond.
After receiving an unsuitable oral response and disagreement from Talbott on February 20th, the BOS carefully planned a takeover of Conklin Hall. During the early hours of February 24th, the BOS entered Conklin Hall with food, bedding, tools, and other equipment, securing the doors with heavy chains within the following four minutes. During their occupation, the BOS renamed the site "Liberation Hall" for the duration of the protest.
During the occupation, the BOS waited to hear the University's response. University President Mason Gross actively engaged with the students' grievances. On February 27th, Conklin Hall was evacuated under an agreement signed with Gross for the University to recruit more black personnel in admissions offices and the Dean of Students office, faculty, and counselors; increase funding for remedial programs and scholarships; admit black students from Newark with high school diplomas; and establish a Black Studies program (page 37).
In their protest, members of the BOS led the largest student racial group movement on Rutgers University's three campuses. Due to their action and demands, the Educational Opportunity Fund Program at Rutgers-Newark was created, which in turn increased enrollment of African-Americans University-wide.
McCormick, Richard Patrick. (1990). The Black Student Protest Movement at Rutgers. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
The arrangement of the Records of the Black Organization of Students is maintained in the original order of the collection at the time of its creation. The folders are arranged alphabetically by each box. Box 4 contains material that was originally housed in two large binders that was damaging to the records inside. The records were broken into parts representing their original order, as represented in the finding aid.
Additional processing of this collection was completed by Alexandra Deangelis in January 2020.
- Inventory to the Records of the Black Organization of Students (B.O.S.) at Rutgers--Newark 1967-1973 RG N2/O2
- Edited Full Draft
- Dragana Drobnjak and Alexandra Deangelis
- October 2015
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written in English.
- Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository
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