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Howard University Student Protesters

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Students file out of a Howard University building after it is forced to shut down because of student sit-in demonstrations, March 20, 1968.

Long recognized as one of the nation's preeminent black institutions, Howard University had graduated civil rights leaders like Thurgood Marshall Charles Houston, Gloria Richardson, Andrew Young, Amiri Baraka, and Stokely Carmichael. By the mid-1960s, however, student leaders chafed at mandatory ROTC programs and administrators they felt were merely seeking to produce graduates acceptable to white America. The winning of the "Miss Homecoming" title by Afro-wearing Robin Gregory in 1966 kicked off a new wave of student activism. Demonstrators blocked the head of the Selective Service System from speaking, and when campus administrators cracked down on dissent and ignored student demands, protesters took over the administration building in March 1968, forcing administrators to meet several of their demands and treat them with a newfound respect. The protest at Howard University sped up the spread of the Black Student Union and Black Studies movements nationwide.

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