On February 1, 1960, four African American students from the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina, sat down on stools at the Greensboro Woolworth store; stools reserved for white patrons only. They asked to be served; they were refused. They were asked to leave; They would not. In fact, over time they were to come back again and again with ever increasing numbers of students until ultimately Woolworth would yield and permit the integration of its lunch counter. The sit-ins spread as a tactic and captured the attention of Martin Luther King, Jr. who described them as ‘‘electrifying movement of Negro students [that] shattered the placid surface of campuses and communities across the South.’’
Those courageous students who staged that original sit-in were victims. They were victims of the Jim Crow laws that had been pervasive nationwide, and particularly in the South, since 1875. Their non-violent form of defiant protest stood strong against true discrimination and the blatant application of man’s inhumanity against man.
To celebrate the courage shown by those students, 54 years and two months later a group of Dartmouth College students staged a three day sit-in at the University's president’s office. Their purpose? To demand a point by point response to their Plan for Dartmouth’s Freedom Budget: Items for Transformative Justice at Dartmouth; a list of action items the protesters said would address a variety of issues on the campus, all of which relate to some perceived victimization of themselves or other students (victims whose parents kick-in over $60,000 per year for their education).
The Freedom Budget, a mesmerizing read for the socially un-conscious, opens with:
We, the Concerned Asian, Black, Latino, Native, Undocumented, Queer, and Differently-Abled students at Dartmouth College, seek to eradicate systems of oppression as they affect marginalized communities on this campus. These systems--which include racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism—are deployed at Dartmouth and beyond as forms of institutional violence. We demand that Dartmouth challenge these systems by redistributing power and resources in a way that is radically equitable. We believe that dialogue and resistance are both legitimate and necessary ways of disturbing the status quo and forcing parties to deal with the roots of the issues.
Demands include hiring more racial minorities as faculty, implementing more gender-neutral housing and bathroom options and banning the term "illegal immigrant." So shackled and drawn are those who walk the Dartmouth grounds.
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