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African American Studies celebrates 50 years at the U of M

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Student group
African American students at the University of Minnesota were frustrated in 1969, saying the school was excluding them.
Photo courtesy of the Morrill Hall Reunion Committee

This year marks the 50 year anniversary of the start of the African American Studies department at the University of Minnesota. The University established the department in 1969, but only after pressure and protests from black student activists.

On Jan. 14, 1969, around 70 students organized a takeover of Morrill Hall, the school's administrative building. The students occupied the building for over 24 hours, successfully negotiating with University President Malcolm Moos to create a program in African American studies.

John Wright was involved in the takeover as a student. He's now a professor of African American Studies at the U. He spoke with MPR News host Cathy Wurzer about the effects of those protests 50 years on.

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