A 1969 protest march that led to changes in how Oregon State University treats students of color will be commemorated by university officials with a re-enactment next week.
The event will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, beginning at the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, 100 SW Memorial Place in Corvallis. The public is invited to take part.
Participants will re-create a student walkout and march across campus organized by the Black Student Union on March 5, 1969.
The students were responding to football coach Dee Andros’ threat to kick Fred Milton, a black player, off the team unless he shaved off his goatee. The coach said he was enforcing team rules against facial hair, but African American students on campus viewed it as one more example of racial oppression in America.
The Black Student Union organized class boycotts, a sit-in at Gill Coliseum and a protest march. The protests prompted a racist backlash on campus, and Milton ultimately transferred to another school.
But the confrontation over African American identity is also credited with prompting positive changes at OSU, including the creation of the Educational Opportunities Program to serve students of color and the establishment of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, which opened in 1975. Today the university has seven cultural resource centers serving students of diverse backgrounds.
The re-enactment is sponsored by the Black Student Union, the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, the Educational Opportunities Program and the Women of Color Caucus.