'Seven Sisters and A Brother' Panel: Transcript
Valerie Smith: All right, good afternoon everyone, and welcome to this special alumni panel featuring the authors of Seven Sisters and a Brother: Friendship And Untold Truths Behind Black Student Activism In The 1960s. Seven of the eight authors are here with us today. Joyce Baynes, Harold Buchanan, Jannette Domingo, Marilyn Holifield, Aundrea Kelley, Marilyn Maye, Myra Rose. I also want to thank professor Keith Reeves for moderating today's discussion. In 1969, after considerable deliberation and many attempts to bring about change through other means, a group of students began an eight day sit-in to bring about major changes at Swarthmore College, including hiring more black faculty and adopting a black studies curriculum.
Today we have the opportunity to hear their firsthand accounts of that experience. The activism of these courageous alumni paved the way for future generations of Swarthmore students. At great risk to themselves, they fought for justice at the college and forever changed our trajectory. Until recently, much of this history has been varied, but the publication of this collective memoir brings this critical moment in the college's history to light and provides a true accounting of this pivotal moment. If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to read Seven Sisters and A Brother. Beyond telling the riveting story of the sit-in, the book features autobiographical chapters on each of the students. Their personal stories provide us with insight into broader questions involving student activism, higher education, and movements for social change. On behalf of all of us here at the college, I want to thank today's panelists for joining us today and officially welcome you back to Swarthmore. Thank you.
Keith Reeves: Thank you, President Smith, for that wonderful introduction by way of context. I am Keith Reeves, Class of '88, tell you my age. I am delighted and honored and really humbled to moderate today's discussion. And we want to just sort of get into it if we can to give time for reflections and comments but also to extend an open invitation for you to also participate in the conversation. So I'll start with a question for everyone. If you will give us, as briefly as you can, a sense of your hometowns, a little bit about your families and what drew you to Swarthmore. That context is really important before we get into the actual conversation around the takeover.
Marilyn Allman Maye: I'm Marilyn Allman Maye. I was born and raised in Harlem, in New York City, and I am the daughter of a working class family. My parents were both immigrants. They came to New York in the early 1910s, 1920s, and was raised in a church in my community in Harlem where we were taught strong values of standing up for what you believe and being courageous, having moral courage I suppose. And I was always very curious. I think curiosity describes me. I was curious about who I was. It was never taught. I could never find the places where my parents came from on any maps. They were never in school. I couldn't ever find out where those places were. And it was nothing about my history, and I didn't understand the neighborhood and the different ethnic groups that were there. And I came and I found they had just started a sociology and anthropology department here.
I was thrilled. And I signed up for that and became that as well as a math major. I wound up doubling it because I didn't think I could make a living doing that. But I think the two things that really drew me here was that I had a sense that I could get answers to the things I was curious about, who I was and why there was nothing about that in any of the reading that I had done, even though I had done extremely well as a reader and a student of Western literature. And my sense of spiritual awareness was very strong at that time. So I think those are the two things that kind of characterized it.
Reeves: Thank you for that.
Marilyn Holifield: I'm Marilyn Holifield. Approximately 50 years ago, when I came to Swarthmore College from Tallahassee, Florida, Tallahassee was a capital of the Confederacy. And when I left Tallahassee, it prided itself being the only capital of a Confederate state that was not captured by the Union army. When I came to Swarthmore, I was leaving a very hostile environment in high school. I was one of three students that desegregated Leon High School. For many years, I would just say yes, I was one of three students that desegregated Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida, which had existed 100 years before I got there without a single black student. And I would leave it there, and in the process of writing this book, I was able to remember and discuss the daily insults, the daily verbal abuse, and the daily just traumatizing experience that Leon High School dished out to me. So when I came to Swarthmore College, this was my grand escape from the Jim Crow South of segregation by race and traditions of racial segregation. I was coming up North to a Quaker-founded school that, as far as I knew, was very liberal.
And it was my grand escape from a situation that was more harsh than I even realized until I started reflecting on it. And my coming to Swarthmore was somewhat fortuitous. I had an older brother who was at nearby Franklin and Marshall College, and I learned that the director of financial aid here, his father and my brother were classmates at Franklin and Marshall College. My brother had a friend who lived in the town of Swarthmore, and he bragged to this friend about his little sister. So the way I tell the story is that they made a bet to, if your sister is all what you say she is, have her apply to Swarthmore and see if she can get in. I had no idea that it was this friend and this, I guess, male competition over something that led my brother to say, 'Marilyn, Swarthmore is a great school. It's co-ed.' At that time, Franklin and Marshall was all male, and 'the Quakers founded it and you know the Quakers are very liberal. It'd be a great experience.' And I applied, I got in, he won the bet, and the rest is history.
Reeves: Thank you for that.
Joyce Frisby Baynes: Good afternoon. My name is Joyce Frisby Baynes, and I graduated from Swarthmore in 1968. I grew up in a poor, working class family in Springfield, Massachusetts. My father worked three jobs. He worked as an unskilled laborer at Monsanto Chemical Company. My mother did not work. There were five children in my family. I was the oldest girl, three girls and two boys, and I really was very, very focused on the academics. I really was not seeing the world in terms of different groups. The only kinds of distinctions that were really evident to me from my perspective was a socioeconomic difference in terms of things that other children, teenagers, young adults could do that I couldn't do because my family didn't have the financial wherewithal. I'm a first generation college student, never had sleepovers, never went to overnight camps, and so I wanted definitely to go to college. And looking around and talking to guidance counselors and college representatives, the thing that struck me about Swarthmore was frankly the pictures of the campus.
I was really mesmerized by Magill Walk, the Rose Garden, Parrish Hall. It just was so incredibly beautiful. And I knew nothing about the financial demands. I knew nothing about the academic rigor. I just said I want to go to Swarthmore, and lo and behold, that year, 1964, is when the college got a very large grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to try to integrate the school. Before my class came in, there were only 10 black students on the whole campus. My class brought about another dozen, so we doubled just that year, 1964-'65. So I came to Swarthmore College really unaware of the demands and unaware of the kind of social milieu there was here. And so I basically was incredibly lonely. And that's what I endured for the first year until many of my sisters came and Harold Buchanan, and we began to collectively feel, wow, we can at least bond together and see what it is that we all need and ask the college to listen to us. And then that's where we went from there on.
Reeves: Thank you.
Jannette Domingo: Hello everyone. My name is Jannette Domingo, and like Marilyn, I started out in Harlem, actually not that far away from where Marilyn lived, but of course we never met in Harlem. Though I went with my father when he played handball in what we call Mount Morris Park, now Marcus Garvey Park, right across the street from Marilyn's house. But though we were and are children of Caribbean immigrants, we were from different islands. My mother came to New York as a teenager. My father's parents came to New York in the 1920s, all from the Virgin Islands. And growing up, I thought that almost everybody was either from the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico.
The part of Harlem that I grew up in eventually became known as El Barrio. So it's on the east side of Manhattan. So the elementary school that I went to reflected that community. But I did have an advantage in that there were a number of black teachers in that school who took a particular interest, and especially my sixth grade teacher who tutored a group of students, a small group of girls, to take the exam for Hunter College High School, one of the more selective public high schools in New York City.
And I was admitted to Hunter College High School, which changed my perception of the world since Hunter College High School at the time was not only all girls but also 99 percent Jewish. So I was then living in two worlds, the Virgin Islands world and the Hunter College High School world, completely different, separate worlds that did not really cross. At Hunter, even something like integrated arts, which was one of the cutting edge programs at the high school that integrated the European arts, did not address any of the African American or African cultural, did not celebrate or even recognize any of that. So coming to Swarthmore actually wasn't all that different from being at Hunter College High School. So Swarthmore was pretty much what I expected. I also had the experience of being interviewed by Dean [Barbara] Pearson Lange [Godfrey '31] as an admissions interview, and her father had been the first civilian governor of the Virgin Islands, which she was proud of.
My mother was with me. And after the interview my mother gave me a little bit of Virgin Islands history and talked about the impact of Governor [Paul] Pearson in the Virgin Islands. The perception of Governor Pearson by the natives was quite different from the perception on the Chautauqua circuit. So even as a young high school graduate, it was kind of like, okay, there's a dissonance here, just as there was a dissonance at Hunter College High School. But I came anyway because yes, the campus was beautiful, but even more important than that, the beautiful campus, the very aggressive counseling towards college at Hunter College High School. I think one person in my class did not go to college and that was a scandal.
One of the main reasons that I came had to do with the wealth of the college. I did apply to historically black colleges. None of them were able to give me a scholarship. They didn't have the resources. And when I got their acceptance letters without any scholarship, I didn't even discuss it with my parents. I did not want to be any sort of financial burden to my parents. This is how some young people thought at the time, so Swarthmore and some other colleges offered full scholarships. They had the resources. So that was a very important part of the consideration, not only the physical resources of the place, but also the financial resources that would allow me to get away from home, which is a big thing. Parents wanted me to go to NYU or Barnard, something in the city for a couple of years, but I convinced them that this scholarship was now and that I needed to take it and run with it.
So coming to Swarthmore was not that different I felt from being at Hunter College High School in terms of the rigor, in terms of the social environment, being one where there were very few black students. At Hunter College High School, there were six black students in my graduating class. So I did not expect more than that at Swarthmore, but I got more in the sense that we'd live together and were able to create bonds and to exert an influence that high school students who went home every day to their parents were not able to do at our institution.
Reeves: Thank you for that. Harold.
Harold Buchanan: Yes, Harold Buchanan, and I'm the brother in the group. And I grew up on Long Island, about 60 miles outside of New York City, in a rural area, Suffolk. And a lot of people think of Long Island and they think of kind of a suburb of New York City, but I was far enough away that it was really a whole new world. Some of my classmates were duck farmers and other types of farmers. It was a very small community. The high school, my graduating class was a little over 100, so very small. I'm not sure how many blacks were in the class, but a handful.
In most of my classes, many of my classes, I was the only black. And if there was another, in some of the classes, there was maybe one other. So my mother went to the same school, so the community had been that way for quite some time. My mother was from Brooklyn. My father was from Manhattan, probably Harlem. I'm not sure exactly where he lived. But when we were young, my grandmother had purchased a house on Long Island for their summer house, although we didn't have a lot of money, but she had us a small little bungalow out in Long Island that they would come to sometimes in the summer.
And my parents moved, well, the whole family moved out of the city when I was a toddler. I kind of remember being in New York City as a toddler and then moving and lived in my grandmother's house for awhile with my aunt's family and my grandmother. And it was kind of crowded there. And my father bought the house next door. But, so it was a small community, a white community, very few blacks. The only black institution in the area was the black church, which is about a block away from my home, mostly run by another black family that actually lived in the village of Bellport. I lived just outside the village limits. So I grew up in the country and I really enjoyed nature and walking in the woods. There were woods behind my house. I would wander through the woods and pick wild blueberries and strawberries and things like that. So I had a very different upbringing than many of the others who were from more suburban settings.
I was attracted to Swarthmore by the atmosphere, the beauty and the sereneness of the campus. I had a high school friend who had moved to Philadelphia in my sophomore year of high school. And so since he lived in Philadelphia so I could come down and visit the campus, one of the, maybe I think the only campus I did visit, because I stayed with him and was able to visit. And I fell in love with the beauty of the campus. And when I got here, I spent a lot of time in the Crum Woods with my camera. I started with my camera in high school. And so I had a different, rural kind of upbringing. My parents did have a very modest incomes. My father, like many black men at the time, left school after the eighth grade. My mother was able to graduate from high school, like many others.
And my father worked as a truck driver at the National Atomic Research Laboratory on Long Island. And that also, because the research laboratory was there, we had a rather good high school for its size. A lot of the parents worked at the laboratory, and some of my high school friends were physicists and things like that. So it gave me the opportunity for such a small school to have a good education. So I came to Swarthmore because of the beauty primarily and because I'd visited it and I liked it, the only one I was able to visit.
And when I came here, it was very similar to what I had grown up with. It was a small college, and that was one factor in my decision, a lot bigger than my high school, but still small relative to other colleges. Freshman year, I did typical freshman things. I was in the folk dance club. I learned about spelunking and went caving one time, and I was in the chorus with Marilyn Maye. I had been in chorus in high school as well. And although I knew about blackness and read the news and knew things were going on, I didn't have a lot of firsthand experience with any kind of black organization. Other than the church, there was nothing else in the community, no black leaders or anything like that, that I knew of.
So when I came to Swarthmore and met this group of educated blacks, it was a new experience for me to be able to communicate and discourse with them. And my class was about 20 blacks in our class, and we again doubled the black population again. So I learned about blackness in associating with black peers at the college. And by sophomore year, I was converted to being black, and the story I tell is in the '60s, they called the people like me oreos, black on the outside and white on the inside. But by sophomore year, I was fully black and there was no turning back.
Reeves: Thank you.
Aundrea Kelley: My name is Aundrea Kelley. I was born overseas in Tokyo. I'm an army brat. And so I spent the first few years of my life on army bases, both here and abroad. We eventually settled in the wonderfully racially calm city of Boston, Massachusetts, where I grew up in an environment that was totally balkanized. Every ethnic group had their own enclave in Boston, and essentially you just didn't cross any boundaries. That was especially true in my neighborhood, Roxbury, which bordered South Boston, which is where the Irish folks live. And there was a lot of tension going back and forth to school and so forth. But I had a really strong family support system, my father and mother and four siblings. My dad had gone, like your dad Harold, to the eighth grade, and he then dropped out of school. I had always thought that it was to help his mother, but I read recently that in some Southern states, blacks were not allowed to go to school beyond the eighth grade as a matter of policy.
And so now today, I wonder if that's what happened in his case. Government programs became important. In looking back, in my family's life, my father, when he dropped out of school at 13, did go to work for a couple of years, but then he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. And he was able to go from being in a Civilian Conservation Corps to a few years later joining the military. He became an army officer and faced significant discrimination. When he joined, the military was still not fully integrated. But he was very clever and figured out ways to make sure that the [inaudible 00:29:21] in his unit still take advantage of some of the benefits of the base. My mother went to the 12th grade. She graduated from Oak Park School in Laurel, Mississippi. Eventually, once we stopped traveling and settled, she also benefited from government programs.
She had been working, doing day's work. That means as a cleaning lady in someone else's house, a Jewish household. And the person she worked for told her about a program, a government program called Model Cities. Now, this was many years later, but through Model Cities, she was able to go to school, go to college, and eventually graduated from college. This was after I had graduated, but she was able to go.
What attracted me to Swarthmore was the beauty of the school. I couldn't imagine any place being that beautiful in person. I had not come to the campus to visit the campus. I was interviewed by a woman, an alum, in Massachusetts. My parents couldn't afford to bring me here, so I was interviewed there. I only knew Swarthmore from pictures, but I thought it was one of the most beautiful places on earth. It reminded me of summer camp. Everything was green and lush, and I just had to come there. I went to my guidance counselor. She had not told me about Swarthmore, mind you. I had seen a poster. It was actually one of these big postcards on the bulletin board outside the guidance counselor's office. And so I was all excited, and I said I found the place I wanted to go. And she said, "Well, you'll never get in. Don't apply." And so like any good teenager, I applied and ended up here.
Another thing about Swarthmore that attracted me was the fact that it was a Quaker college. I had grown up in a Christian home, spent probably 80 percent of my time in church doing various activities and participating in various programs. I spent a lot of time also in community events. There were a number of significant community activists in Boston at the time that developed programs, arts programs, and so forth. And I enjoyed that as well. And I was attracted to the fact that Swarthmore was also close to Philadelphia, so I might be able to continue some of those activities here.
Once I got on campus, I was so excited to be a college student first of all. I am the first person in... Well, my sister had gone, which we're the same generation, but I was so excited to finally be able to experience the college life, which to me as a naive teenager, never done anything or gone anywhere, meant that I would be able to come to campus, I'd have this really rich intellectual environment and I could go to a college mixer. I was dying to go to a college mixer. I had heard that they were the best thing ever. So I didn't know anyone else on campus. This is my first week on campus. And I went to the college mixer that was being held that opening week. And I walked in a little fearfully because I'm on the shy side, and I stood up kind of against the wall and I tried to greet people, but no one said anything more than a polite hello.
In those days, young ladies, the boys asked the girls to dance. It's not like it is today where the girls ask the boys. And so I was kind of waiting for a boy to come and ask me to dance, and no one ever did. So after maybe about an hour or so of kind of standing there and feeling like I stuck out like a sore thumb, I went to the ladies room. And I said, okay, let me just go and calm down. And when I went into the ladies room, there were all these girls exhibiting what happens when you drink too much beer, all over the place. And so that was my big experience with the college mixer and I never went to another one. So I am glad that I came to Swarthmore though. It changed me as a human being. And as the motto is today, the college is changing us and we are able to change the world as a result.
Myra Rose: I'm Myra Rose, and I'm from Norfolk, Virginia, which is a Navy town in southeastern Virginia. Both of my parents went to college. My mother taught high school. My father actually majored in animal husbandry, but he was a plasterer and did physical labor. I was the oldest of four children, and as the smart one and the oldest one, I was expected to do certain things. And so I did. I did well in school. And when it was time to go to high school, my father decided to move us to a different part of town, and I ended up having to go to the white high school. I did not have the same experience that Marilyn had. I think there may have been 10 people in the school when I went there, but Norfolk had had a slightly different history. They closed their schools down for a couple of years rather than integrate. So when they finally did reopen the schools, it was pretty calm after that.
My life in that high school was very isolating, but I was a good student, so I did well, and I made the grades, and I passed the exams and all those other sorts of things. I had always known that I was going to go to college, and I thought that I was going to go to an HBCU because I lived in an area where there were lots and lots of them. So I applied to lots of colleges. But I was also interested in getting a little bit further away from my mother then, for some reason. And so I said, but I wasn't crazy, I wasn't going to California or New York, but I decided that I would apply to some places between Pennsylvania and South Carolina, and a little to the West.
I'm sitting in the guidance counselor's office for, I have no idea why I was sitting there, and there was a catalog on the table. And it was garnet, I guess that's the color, garnet and white or something, or red and white or whatever. Anyway, it looked nice and I picked it up, and I was just thumbing through the catalog and looking, and I said, oh, that looks nice. I think I'll go ahead and apply. I really believe that I've been directed, seriously, to do this, because I never saw Swarthmore. No one in my family had heard of Swarthmore. No one in my school had heard of Swarthmore. As far as I knew, nobody in Norfolk had heard of Swarthmore. And I said, okay, I'm going to apply anyway. So I applied there, I applied to the University of Pennsylvania, a few other schools, and several HBCUs, and I got in everywhere. And what happened was that it all came down to the money. Swarthmore got me because I got a full scholarship and $200 for books. It was the $200 for books. Seriously. And so I came to Swarthmore.
Is that enough? Is that enough, Keith?
Reeves: That's great. That context is really important. Before I ask the question about the takeover, and then I'm going to open it up for questions, there are two contextual pieces that I actually need you to say something about. So if one or two of you would say something about the admissions report that was on display at McCabe, so I'm encouraging people to buy the book. And I'm going to ask you to also say something about the Rockefeller Grant that brought some of you here, because that's really important contextual history. I was stunned when I read this in the book. I thought I knew everything about Swarthmore. So if two of you would say something about those two pieces, please.
Holifield: What we learned when we came to Swarthmore was that the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation were giving grants just to facilitate the desegregation of colleges. When I came to Swarthmore, and I think when other people came to Swarthmore, we did not know that at that time in Swarthmore's 100 years of history, that it was only until 1943 that the first black student was admitted, and that Swarthmore intentionally was limiting the number of black students to one or two until Joyce's class. But what happened when Joyce's class came to Swarthmore, and when my class came to Swarthmore, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation offered scholarships to the students, but also grants to the colleges to defray the cost of our coming here. And it was stunning to us to learn not only had there been so few, less than 100, maybe 30 black students, in the 100 years of Swarthmore before we came, but on top of that, the incentive to bring us here was financial from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. So that was a stunning revelation for us.
The tipping point on what led to the takeover, the occupation, was powered by respect. And in this case, disrespect. I tell people that respect is so powerful to move people to make change. And disrespect is also powerful. And one never really realizes what a powerful force the antagonism of respect is. What happened, up until our senior year, we had been pressing the college for more black students, and especially when we entered in September, the number of black students had decreased by 50 percent. And thought the College was going backwards when we had been asking the College to go forward. That was one thing. We had also asked the College to recruit and bring Black faculty, and that was not really happening. But the tipping point was when the College breached what we considered a fundamental component of respect, our privacy. Our families had provided the College with personal information about our families, our family income, our family composition, whether we lived in two-parent families, single-parent families, whether our grades, our board scores, very personal information.
We asked through SASS, as an organization, SASS asked the College repeatedly to remove this report containing this private information about us from the library. We thought it was disrespectful to maintain that type of private information on view by our classmates and our professors so that we could be judged not by who we were as we presented ourselves, but we would be judged on information that did not give the full picture of who we were as individuals and what we bring to the College. The College refused to take this information from the library. We thought it was a breach of trust, we thought it was a breach of respect. And that was the tipping point that empowered, that motivated us to say enough is enough and something has to change.
Reeves: And if someone else will tell us about the takeover, and then I'm going to go open it up for questions.
Maye: So when we left for Christmas break, winter break in December 1968, after a series of denials of our request to remove the report, we decided among ourselves that we had to do something when we returned if the report was still in the library when we came back in January. And over Christmas break, we met at where I lived in Harlem. Aundrea came from Boston and Jannette lived in New York. Harold lived in Long Island, so we were the closest ones. And we came prepared to plan some kind of action, probably a sit-in. We thought it might last a day or at most two days, but we were being prepared just in case. And Harold was the brother, so he brought the floor plans for Parrish Hall and we figured we would take the Admissions Office, we would occupy the Admissions Office because that was the offending party that had done this report and had refused to remove it from the library.
So we planned that we would do a sit-in, some kind of action in the Admissions Office. And we got floor plans for how to secure the doors and the windows. And if we had to stay overnight, we would have some provisions, just basic provisions so we wouldn't starve to death overnight I guess. Toilet paper, whatever. So it was pretty modest, but we did try to think through anything that we would need for this action. And of course we were concerned because this was pretty un-Quaker-like, so we had some concerns. We had to think through and talk through how we would handle ourselves, how we would organize ourselves. Some people would be spokespersons and some people would be working behind the scenes, working on statements to explain what we were doing so that there would be consistent communication.
So we kind of organized. We put our Swarthmore educations to good use and figured out a strategic plan to do this, hoping that we wouldn't have to do it. But when we returned in January, the report was still in the library, and we again asked one more time, would you please take it out? And we were refused. There were forces that were just really digging in and feeling like we were out of place to make any demands at all of any kind. I don't know if it was because they felt we were on scholarship and we should be grateful and not make demands.
I think the word demand was a trigger for some people in authority. Just they were offended by the idea that we would make a demand. So just digging, and we said we had no choice and so we had a midnight meeting the Wednesday before the Thursday sit-in. And we were careful not to, we asked only black students from SASS who wanted to come. And the number 30-40 or whatever, they came. And we said 'we can't tell you the details, but we're going to do something tomorrow and it may mean bringing your sleeping bags or bringing your homework.' Because we were studying for finals. We were always good students. Bring your homework, bring your papers, and no laptops in those days. 'And so bring your homework, bring your books, because we don't know how long this is going to take.'
But we didn't say a lot of details and people didn't really know the night before. And said we'll meet at Sharples patio at noon and we'll give instructions then. So that was the way we went about planning it. And at noon that day, the few of us who knew the plan went to the Admissions Office. We were very polite. We had scripted and rehearsed what we would say. And were very polite, and you can read the details, but we were able to occupy the office and the people left. And we had a lot of support from the workers, so we haven't mentioned, but as you can still see today in some respects, almost all of the black adults, all of the black adults on campus were the service workers. They took care of our rooms, they changed our linen, they cooked our food, they kept the grounds.
And they were the adults in loco parentis for us because there were no other black adults in the faculty or administration at the time. There was one non-tenure professor that we, he did come eventually. And they turned out to be very helpful to us. They helped provide us with supplies, and we had a lot of support from the community. They recognized the struggle we were up against and they supported us. And that was encouraging. So people were much more progressive-minded than you might've thought by the way they carried themselves. And we were able to secure the office and over time more and more students joined until...
Reeves: Black and white?
Maye: No. It was exclusively a SASS operation. But there were students who came in who weren't in SASS. But by the end, almost all of the black students joined us. And of course we attracted national attention in the national press where we were vilified and called everything. They didn't use terrorists, but it was basically militants. That was the word. And they were predicting that we were empty headed radicals and we would all flunk out of college and all kinds of things were said. So that's the short version.
Buchanan: But to your question, Keith, on the black and white, there were white students who would have liked to join us, but we respectfully asked them to keep their protests separate and support us from outside.
Reeves: Great, thank you. So let's open up for questions. I think this microphone will work, right? I think you might need the mic.
Speaker: [Why was this report put in the library?] Did you ever get a reasonable explanation?
Holifield: One of the most interesting things about that history is that we don't really know the answer to that question. For us, that question remains unanswered. The mystery remains unsolved. It remains unexcused, and it's for all of us felt disrespected by the College putting that report in the library, it remains a kind of reminder that the College even to this day has not figured out that that was a very disrespectful thing to do.
Domingo: I think we want to remember also the very small number of subjects that they were reporting on. We can understand that the College felt the need to report to the funders, but to make a document public that reported on such a small number of subjects that each individual could be identified by his or her data points was clearly something that would be illegal today.
Buchanan: One of the things that Bridget, who's not with us, mentioned in her chapter is that she felt that we were being treated like lab rats. We were the subject of an experiment with the Rockefeller Foundation money. And the College did a report with academic rigor analyzing our backgrounds and our families and treating us more like lab experiments than real people.
Angeline: Hi. Hello. My name is Angeline. I'm a second year here at the College and I work as a research intern at the Black Cultural Center. So I first want to say thank you guys so much. Like, wow. Just knowing that I wouldn't be able to do the things that I love and do what I do here if it weren't for all of you and all of your efforts and hard work just makes me very happy. And my question is super specific, so I apologize if it doesn't apply or make sense to anyone. A few weeks back I was going through some of the archives and that's normally what I do. I read the archives, and specifically something that I was reading was a letter that was in correspondence between SASS and the administration in 1970s, specifically March 1st I believe.
And I really love reading these correspondence letters because it really shows me how unapologetic and uncompromising you guys were during that time. And it's something that gives me a lot of sustenance and a lot of life right now, especially with all of the chaos going on. And specifically this letter was between President [Robert] Cross and the SASS exec board. It didn't have any names on it. But essentially at the end of the letter, the letter ended with the SASS board saying, 'This is the split, This is the holy move.' And when I read that, I had to close the computer and just sit. I had to sit in myself for a long time. So I wanted to just ask, what were your thoughts on that, if any of you...
Buchanan: Well first of all, that was 1970. Half of us were gone at the time. And so I think the Monday session on the BCC will address that better. Don Mizell was probably, I'm sure could answer that.
Don Mizell: I can answer that. I wrote that.
Reeves: Don, let me give you the mic. Let me give you the mic, Don.
Mizell: I wrote that letter. And I had a very good relationship with President Cross, who was a good man. But we still had to have another demonstration that we did not put in the media to get the Black Cultural Center. That was the last thing on the list. They were doing everything but that. But that's what [inaudible 00:53:36] is about. But I wrote that letter and I also used that poem as the opening for the Black at Swarthmore recruitment brochure that the College used for the next 10 years:
'Broke the chains, wings spread, fly brothers, sisters to act, unveiling as the night, chanting, and this is the split. This is the holy move. And this is the split. This is the holy move.'
Reeves: Thank you for that.
Smith: First of all, I'd like to thank you all so much for your courage, for your efforts, for the memoir itself. It is, as I've said, an absolutely riveting and moving account, and we're all deeply grateful to you for memorializing your experience in this way. I, like Angeline, I know that I would not be here either without all of you and the sacrifices that you've made. So I want to thank you for that. As I reflect on the impact of the report on you all as students, what it meant to have that document in the library knowing that your privacy was violated and that you were disrespected, it's actually heartbreaking. And so I, on behalf of the College, want to apologize to you for the fact that you had to endure that. I realize that this apology is belated, but it is heartfelt and I am truly sorry for the harm that it bestowed on you, so I just want to make sure I say that. Thank you. Thank you.
Holifield: On behalf of the black community at Swarthmore that was here in 1969 and the Black community that has evolved over the years, we are deeply grateful for the support. We are also grateful for other things the College has done to take Swarthmore College forward. Of course, there are some unresolved, other issues, but that's another story. But we are all deeply grateful and we thank you, President Smith, which is an idea that could not have even entered our imagination in 1965 when most of us [inaudible 00:56:36] that we would have an African American female president of Swarthmore College. So thank you.
Reeves: And we have time for one or two more questions.
Buchanan: Can I mention one thing, Keith? That for those who may not realize, our relationship with the College has been good in coming back, and because of the relationship and the way the College has welcomed and received us, I want to make sure that everyone was aware that our share of the proceeds from the book are being donated to the College for Black Studies in support of the Black community here.