This Week in Amherst History: Oct. 2, 1969

“The program … consists of two courses specifically designated as black studies courses,” The Student reported. “The rest of the courses may be chosen from a great conglomeration of previously existing courses.”

The program immediately came under fire from students and faculty alike as unnecessary and self-contradictory. “Ideally, a black studies program would not be necessary,” said Wilburn Williams ’71, a member of Afro-Am, a predecessor to the current Black Student Union. “If all subjects which involved some aspects of black studies presented that material, then a separate black studies program would not be needed.”

Even though the program was intended to develop “a deeper appreciation of common ground between black and white,” The Student reported that the department only offered courses from the black perspective.

“If the course is to be merely a formalization of dialogue, the question needs to be raised as to what position the black students will hold. ‘Even without black studies, black students are resource people at Amherst College,’ stated Calvin Ward ’70,” The Student reported.