On Wednesday, Black students at Brown walked out of class, joined by allies in the community, to commemorate and reassert the relevance of the 1968 student walkout organized by Brown and Pembroke students. This week, we commemorate 50 years of the labor done by Black students, and Black women in particular, in building inclusivity and grappling with the oppressive history of Brown as an institution.
In a 1968 letter from the Afro-American Society to Brown President Ray L. Heffner, student-activists wrote: "We cannot afford to be quiet any longer. Brown is a stifling, frustrating, degrading place for black students. This situation is especially intolerable in a university which professes to be a bulwark of American liberalism.” We acknowledge that the '68 promise by the University to increase the number of Black students in the entering class to 11 percent (the percentage of Black population in the US at the time), as well other student demands, remain unfulfilled. We acknowledge the obstacles that Black students, students of color, low-income students, disabled students, first-generation students, and other historically marginalized groups have faced at Brown—the University has historically diminished their contributions and left them behind.
At the Indy, we are reminded that we too need to do better and continue working through our own complicity as a publication funded by Brown. Fifty years later, we are reminded of the necessity to uplift the voices of our historically underrepresented staff and, more importantly, to build a platform that is intentional in the content it produces and the political purpose that it serves within the Brown and Providence community.