A Decade of Dissent: Student Protests at the University of Michigan in the 1960s

Civil Rights

Civil rights became another important issue on campus, especially after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. On the morning of King's funeral, April 9, 1968, a group of African-American students took over the Administration Building, chaining the doors and preventing anyone from entering except President Fleming, whom they had called to hear their demands. Fleming heard their demands and planned a subsequent meeting, leading to the development of a Martin Luther King Scholarship and Professorship. The students were also concerned with the lack of African-American professors and students, and Fleming vowed to work to recruit both groups.

admin building

Police try to enter the Administration Building on April 9, 1968.
©Andrew Sacks

Although the university had pledged to increase minority enrollment, the lack of change by the late sixties resulted in the formation of the Black Action Movement (BAM).

Formed by various student groups, BAM's aim was to assist minority students and to increase minority acceptance at the university. In March of 1970, when the Regents would not pledge to meet BAM's goals, they called for a campus-wide strike.

students march

Students support BAM strike.
©Andrew Sacks

fight racism

Students support BAM strike.
©Andrew Sacks

police and crowd

Ann Arbor Police blockade street during
BAM protest. ©Andrew Sacks


A young strike supporter. ©Andrew Sacks

The strike was one of the most successful in campus history. Over three hundred professors and teaching assistants cancelled classes and many departments were shut down. After eight days, the university gave approval to the essential demands of increased minority aid, services, and staff, and agreed to work toward a goal of 10% African-American enrollment by 1973.

All photos on this page, ©Andrew Sacks.

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