Bay State Banner
On November 6, 1969, Tufts Afro-Student Union Members along with students from local universities joined members of the New Urban League, the United Community Construction Workers and thirty black construction workers to protest the Volpe Construction Co’s illegal hiring practices. Out of the fourteen job openings available for the university’s Jackson Hall project, only two black men were hired, bumping the number of black men on the workforce to seven out of a total of one hundred and four workers. Prior to this demonstration, Tufts students submitted eight demands to the University’s administration, stipulating that university along Volpe follow federal guidelines in hiring qualified workers. Upon the school’s failure to follow through with these demands, students took charge and demonstrated on the university’s campus, stopping construction work for several days to the dismay of Volpe’s white workers who attempted to continue with their work. In response to these demonstrations, Tufts University sought a court order to ban future protests on campus; the article “The Tufts Scene” notes that the restraining order secured by Tufts prevented students Dan Coleman, George Cox, and Charles Yancey as well as Martin Gopen and Leo Fletcher, student leaders and writers from performing any kind of demonstration on campus in the future. The protests of unfair hiring practices on Tufts’ campus were just one of several to happen in the Boston area, including demonstrations on Harvard’s campus several weeks later. These protests speak to what Bay State Banner writer Martin Gropen described as students taking action in his column The Job Scene and illustrate a civic activism and radical sense of duty relatively unseen in today’s university settings.