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CSUN Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Landmark Revolt by Minority Students

November 05, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

On Nov. 4, 1968, African American students stormed the administration building of what was then known as San Fernando Valley State College to protest the institution's treatment of minority students.

The standoff resulted in the arrests of 19 students and paved the way for the creation of the Pan African studies department at what is today Cal State Northridge.

On Wednesday, CSUN students celebrated the 30th anniversary of the revolt with a series of events highlighted by sophomore O. G. McClinton's dramatic one-man presentation of "Ways I've Been: The Story of Nat Turner."

"In 1831 in southern Virginia, Nat Turner led a slave revolt that resounds throughout the nation even today," said McClinton, dressed in period clothing.

McClinton's performance elicited whoops and hollers and, eventually, a standing ovation rom the crowd of 200 students and faculty at the Performing Arts Center in the University Student Union.

"I thought [McClinton's performance] was wonderful," said Barbara Rhodes, professor of Pan African studies at CSUN. "You can feel the passion and the intensity."

Sponsored by the Union Program Council, a student organization, the day's activities included a speech from James Garrett, one of the founders of the Black Student Union at San Francisco State University in 1968; a panel discussion on the evolution of the Pan African studies department, and a video presentation of an interview with Kwame Ture, who was known as Stokely Carmichael when he was a Black Panther leader.

The celebration concluded with the reopening of the Black House, an on-campus community center for African American and other students that received a new roof and fresh coat of paint. The house had been closed for renovation.

"It's important to remember the students that paved the way for today's students," Rhodes said. "It gives us a chance to remember the students who struggled to make it happen."

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