Black Liberation 1969 Archive

Struggle for Black Studies

In May 1968, the College formed a Committee on Black Studies, which included faculty members and students from SASS. As originally envisioned, the Black Studies program would “have a large appeal to the entire College [… ] be relevant to the contemporary scene [… and] cover neglected areas of study.” (1) The committee made recommendations about curricular and co-curricular changes to create a Black Studies program.

At the same time that the committee was pushing to have a formally recognized program, students were actively creating curricular change. In the spring of 1969, students created their own course “Black Philosophies of Liberation.” That May, five students graduated with a concentration in Black Studies, despite the lack of a formalized Black Studies program.

In the fall of 1969, a few black faculty started teaching at Swarthmore, some of whom taught Black Studies courses – most notably, Kathryn Morgan, who students repeatedly credit for teaching them about black history in a way that no other professor had. The hiring of black faculty and increased course offerings, a response to SASS demands, was one way that the College addressed black student concerns about the lack of resources and support.

(1) [Black Studies Curriculum Committee], “[Minutes of the Black Studies Curriculum Comittee 05/21/1968],” Black Liberation 1969 Archive, accessed December 1, 2014,