The legacy and the promise: Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Black Student Strike

The 1960s brought a wave of African-American students to predominantly white universities across the country, sparking hope for more diverse campuses while drawing attention to racism and exclusionary practices. At the University of Wisconsin–Madison, years of meetings between black students and the administration broke down in February of 1969, leading to the Black Student Strike. Fifty years later, the strike will animate many of the events during Black History Month, allowing the campus to reflect more deeply on both the achievements of the past and the work that remains to be done.

Black Student Strike

11/21/1968 to 3/4/1969

Fifty years ago, black students at UW–Madison, propelled by longstanding grievances and fresh flash points, called for a campus-wide student strike until administrators agreed to 13 demands. Joined by thousands of white allies, they boycotted classes, marched to the state Capitol, took over lecture halls and blocked building entrances. Those last actions spurred the governor to activate the Wisconsin National Guard. The protest, surging and ebbing over roughly two weeks in February 1969, was among the largest in the university’s history. Dubbed the Black Student Strike, it would forever change the campus.

Read About It Here


Special thanks to the 2019 Black History Month Student Planning Committee