On November 22, the mood changed substantially when the BSU presented
the faculty with the document its authors described as non-negotiable demands.
The original is in the Reed archives today, neatly typed on slightly
REED IS ACTIVELY RECRUITING BLACK STUDENTS. THEY BRING US HERE, FORCE
US TO STUDY THE CULTURE OF OUR OPPRESSORS (EUROPE AND AMERICA), AND THEN NEGLECT OUR OWN
CONTRIBUTIONS TO CIVILIZATION. BLACK PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT. WE COME FROM A CULTURE, (HISTORY
AND LANGUAGE) AND MUST FACE A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT THAN WHITE PEOPLE AFTER GRADUATION. REED
DOES NOT ANSWER THIS NEED.
This is followed by what would come to be known as “the five
I. The consultants will provide a fresh view of Reed college. We want
a commitment to a Black Studies Program in some form.
Also see Demand II.
II. We want funds to bring Black consultants here to confer with us,
the BSU, to develop a workable satisfactory curriculum.
We want funds enough to keep them here long enough to develop this
III. We want ABSOLUTE control in the selection of the Black faculty
for Black Studies. Their qualifications will be not only on academic credentials but also
on knowledge in the field. All professors should receive at least the minimum Reed salary
for beginning professors and should receive higher salaries as their experience, academic
credentials, and knowledge of the field dictates. No Black professor will be removed without
IV. We want control of the curriculum until there are enough Black
professors to take over the job.
V. No courses dealing with peoples of African descent will be taught
at Reed without BSU permission.
WE DEMAND A DECISION AT THE NOVEMBER 25, 1968, MEETING.
Three days later came the faculty response, which studiously avoided
mentioning demands three, four and five, saying that the BSU was free to “initiate
discussion of personnel matters with the Faculty Advisory Committee and matters of curriculum
before the Educational Policies Committee.” And that the faculty “supports the
bringing of consultants to the college” as soon as possible.
To most of the faculty, it was a measured but supportive response,
designed to keep the lines of communication open. To most of the black students at Reed,
it was a mealy-mouthed, if not downright insulting response. Behind the scenes, the faculty
was already taking sides, tipping into what would soon become turmoil. On the day before
the initial faculty response, the professor who was probably closest to the black students,
and the friendliest of all to the cause of black studies, met Freeman, seen as the most moderate
of the BSU leaders, in the coffee shop. The professor held out a copy of the five demands. “Calvin,” he
said, “even I can’t vote for this.”