By Jay Lee
For Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 15, WSU held many events to commemorate and reflect on the principles of King’s life and work, such as the Coug Caring Card Program, MLK Day of Service, MLK Film Series: “Selma” and For Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 15, WSU held many events to commemorate and reflect on the principles of King’s life and work, such as the Coug Caring Card Program, MLK Day of Service, MLK Film Series: “Selma” and “Wakanda Forever,” and the visit to campus by WSU alum Marc Robinson, who came to give a speech about his forthcoming book, “Washington State Rising: Black Power on Campus in the Pacific Northwest.”
An exhibition from Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections displayed various archived documents of student unrest and activism at WSU during the ‘60s and ‘70s. University Archivist Mark O’English provided an exhibit tour.
“Washington State Rising” follows the journey of college students in Washington who joined Black Student Unions and sparked protest campaigns during the ’60s.
These photos show the numerous student protests and marches during the 1969-70 school year, including pictures of students taking over the French Administration building, protesting both the invasion of Cambodia and the shooting at Kent State University.
O’English said the main picture shows Ralph Atkins, the only Black student in the protest, holding the mic. Atkins was also the only student who got arrested.
After Atkins’ arrest, posters like these were made by students.
O’English said many WSU students expressed outrage that the only Black student in the protest ended up getting arrested.
In 1970, third-world student organizations made strike posters with 11 demands for WSU President Glenn Terrell.
He wrote a response letter to strike organizers addressing each demand in detail.
This undergraduate student newspaper, Three Forks Press, was printed in 1970. It brought up many sensitive matters.
Students also made many posters for racism workshops at WSU.
These examples have some interesting visuals, especially one of Uncle Sam with various skin colors.
Going through the exhibit, it was surprising to see how many students actively engaged in racism issues and protested. All these actions and efforts are what make it possible for people of many colors to study in college freely today.
However, many forms of discrimination are still going on, and we should stay alert to them. Many people are still fighting to regain their rights, as evidenced by the Jan. 17 strike by the union representing academic student employees across the WSU system. Let’s not forget past and ongoing efforts to fight discrimination.