Ten University of Wisconsin-Waukesha students have been invited to participate in a panel discussion based on UW Oshkosh’s “Black Thursday” and its consequences. The program is set for Wednesday, Feb. 24, at noon in the UW-Waukesha library, located at 1500 N. University Drive, Waukesha.
Panelists will address their experiences at UW-Waukesha in light of the issues faced by the UW Oshkosh students more than 40 years ago. Black Thursday was chronicled in an exhibit assembled by UW Oshkosh associate professor of history Stephen Kercher. It has been on display in the UW-Waukesha library since last November.
Sponsored by the campus African-American Union, the Library, and the Campus Climate Committee, the program is open to the public at no charge.
Director of the Black Thursday Oral History Project, Kercher conducted interviews with as many as he could of the 94 African-American students who were expelled from UW Oshkosh after a demonstration in the chancellor’s office Nov. 21, 1968. The exhibit, “Black Thursday Remembered,” shows what happened that day as witnessed by those who were involved.
What was then the Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh (UW Oshkosh) had successfully recruited 114 black students for fall 1968 from the “culturally distinct” African-American communities in Milwaukee and Racine. Frustrated by what they interpreted as President Guiles’ delay tactics, angered by episodes of racism they experienced in the city and inspired by the example of militant students elsewhere in the U.S., a number of Black Student Union members began engaging in destructive activity, including dismantling President Guiles’ office.
Local law enforcement stepped in, and President Guiles quickly suspended 94 black students. Despite the interventions of Father James Groppi, Milwaukee assemblyman Lloyd Barbee and groups of white students who staged protests against the campus administration, the WSU Board of Regents upheld the suspensions. Those students never returned to Oshkosh.