April Staff Picks: From the Classroom to the Streets: 50 Years of School-Based Activism

Long-percolating racial tensions, resistance to the Vietnam War, and broad frustration with the governing political order exploded after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. Rebellions ignited across the United States, and spectacularly so here at Columbia University, where student protests permuted into a week-long occupation of several buildings, a strike that lasted through the end of the spring semester, and struggles around the university’s conduct and governance that continue to reverberate today. Beyond the university, students, teachers, and parents battled over primary and secondary education in Harlem and Brooklyn’s Ocean Hill- Brownsville, laying groundwork for the student-led campaign for student rights and recognition which opened the new decade. At Columbia and universities across the country, uprisings engendered policy changes and the development of Black studies departments. In East Harlem, dissatisfaction with early childhood education led parents-- primarily mothers-- to create their own community schools.

50 years later, student protest has again seized national attention. In the wake of a mass shooting there, students at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have created the #NeverAgain movement to challenge America’s lax guns laws. Most are too young to vote. Yet within weeks, the Parkland students have mobilized student action nationwide, in turn spurring legislative and corporate action. As students with multifaceted experiences of organizing within and without schools, we’ve curated this collection to reflect on stories from the last half century of student and school-based organizing. From students involved in the Columbia takeover, to underground newspapers published by high school students across the country, to sociological explorations of youth culture itself, these titles give insight into the struggles that have spilled out of the classrooms and into the streets.

From the Classroom to the Streets: 50 Years of School-Based Activism is curated by Gottesman Libraries Service Associates Anika Paris and Jasmine Sykes-Kunk.

Where: Reading Room, Second Floor

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Staff Picks is curated each month by the Gottesman Libraries' staff to highlight resources on educational topics and themes of special interest.

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