In the context of power imbalances between the races, literacy, access to high-quality education, and the resulting promotion opportunities are overwhelmingly important. The struggle for meaningful and inclusive college education in the United States has been in place since the 1960s to make the country’s increased racial diversity reflected in the attitudes to future professionals (Agents of Change). Black students’ protests against limited inclusion in academic life on the basis of race revealed the educational system’s flaws at the structural level.
The movement against racism in education revolved around various inequalities promoted by the academic system. Dawson’s and Ginzberg’s documentary titled Agents of Change effectively summarizes them by reviewing the protesters’ demands. In 1966, the mobilization of Black student organizations across college campuses started a series of collective actions to facilitate the recognition of minority students’ unique struggles and underrepresentation (Agents of Change). In the late 1960s, two truly historic protests, including the Cornell University protest of 1969 and the 1968 strike at San Francisco State College, were organized to spark meaningful change (Agents of Change). The manifestations of structural inequality, as formulated by activists, included the need for diversity-informed student selection and staff recruitment policies (Agents of Change). Other requested changes shed light on the Black student community’s growing awareness of the limited use of African-descended people’s perspectives and challenges as a group in history programs. This gave rise to the requirement to resolve the issue of representation at least partially by introducing formal academic units concerned with the Black community’s history (Agents of Change). Therefore, various race-based barriers to becoming the full-fledged members of academic communities sparked the revolution.
Finally, Black youth’s protests revealed multiple deficiencies of race’s social dynamics in academic contexts. Ranging from everyday racism to the absence of instructors that Black students could identify with, such challenges could make educational settings perceived as spaces requiring excessive assimilation. The long-term need for Black studies as an independent and accessible academic discipline signified the community’s unsatisfied right to be included in multiperspective historical interpretation.
Agents of Change. Directed by Frank Dawson and Abby Ginzberg. PBS, 2016.