In 1969, Tufts became a center for Civil Rights activism born from controversy around the construction of Lewis Hall. Students staged a work stoppage to protest racist hiring policies practiced by the construction company Tufts had hired to build the dorm. They wrote open letters, sat in at both Ballou and East Halls, and collaborated with workers and with people of color in Boston. The demonstrations attracted support across the Boston area, as well as from D.C. and New York.
The events at Tufts in 1969/1970 led to new hiring policies at the university, which were subsequently adopted by other universities. More broadly, it generated improvements in the enforcement and implementation of federal hiring policies, among others. It led to the creation of training programs for minority employees on campus, as well as the foundation of the Africana Center.
What it did not lead to, however, is an answer to the concerns and issues that still affect the Tufts community: the lack of a Black Studies program, a need for faculty of color, and recently, a narrow conception of “active citizenship” that excludes the possibilities of student power and local organizing.
The goal of this project is to build social consciousness through exploring Tufts’ history of student activism. This exhibit, and the protests it commemorates, bring these ideals into focus for current Tufts students in the hopes of expanding their leadership capabilities at all levels of society.