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Wooster Digital History Project

The Black Manifesto

The Black Students' Manifesto

This is the first page of the Black Students Manifesto, known more simply as the Black Manifesto. It listed the concerns of the collective Black student community on campus and proposed solutions to address those concerns. (Click the image to the view entire document.)

On November 6, 1969, a Thursday morning, the Black Student Association at the College of Wooster issued a declaration of change to the campus:

We the Black Students of the College of Wooster feel that now is the time to make the long overdue changes needed on the campus...[our] enemy is institutional racism and it is apparent throughout every aspect of the campus community.1

The Black Students’ Manifesto, now known to College historians as ‘The Black Manifesto,’ was both unique and ordinary. It was unremarkable in that students, as well as faculty and administration, had already been concerned with issues of racism on Wooster’s campus. What sets the Manifesto apart from other formal statements, however, is the nature of its intentions; the student authors were sure to note that, while they were available for discussion of these concerns, “the days of idle rhetoric [were] long gone.” This is one of the first statements by Black students to show that they were tired of being put through the hoops of formal debate and administrative stalling. Unfortunately, student response to this statement was underwhelming; when asked about it in a survey by the campus paper, The Wooster Voice, few students responded to the question of whether or not to concede to its demands. Many of the people who responded negatively did so because they had no idea what the Manifesto was! Fortunately, though, administration responded with the formation of a committee to address the issues addressed in the Manifesto, leading to the hiring of an admissions counselor whose mission was to increase Black student presence.3  Perhaps a distant foreshadowing of things to come, a 1980 review of response to the Black Manifesto showed that the Black campus community was rather disappointed with response to issues over the past decade.4

1 Ken McHargh & Black Student Association, The Black Students’ Manifesto, November 6, 1969.
2 The Wooster Voice, May 8, 1970, 6.
3 The Wooster Voice, February 2, 1973, 1-6.
4 The Wooster Voice, November 7, 1980, 1-5.