The 1968 Columbia University Riots

The 1968 riot and takeover on the Columbia University campus is still a rotting sore that ruins the day.  The matter drowns in infamy and many wish it soon to be forgotten — much like the student strike of 1932 that took over the campus — but if we hope not to repeat the mistakes of the past, we must remember them, share the facts of the moment, and preserve the truth into the future.

It is interesting that, just as during the campus strike in 1932, the 1968 riot centered on athletics at Columbia university.

I was able to purchase the historic images you see in this article, and I’m sharing them all with you now to help set the definitive timeline of what happened in Morningside Heights in the Spring of 1968 — and why the riot happened, and how Columbia, still to this day, wrestles with the hard matters had at hand half a century later.

Some of the dates and captions may seem off — I offer them to you directly as they appear in situ — no editorializing or changing of the information has occurred.

Some ghosts never die — they remain, haunting you, forever; not from the shadows — but from the bright sunlight of College Walk.


New York: Statue of Alexander Hamilton looms above students outside Hamilton Hall during a protest rally at Columbia University April 24th.  Hanging from the balcony are photos of Stokely Carmichael and a Viet Cong flag.  Acting dean Harry S. Coleman and two other Columbia officials have been barricaded inside the building since April 23rd. One target of the student sit-ins is the university’s plan to construct a gymnasium in a Harlem park, which Negro students contend will deprive residents of a recreation area.

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Watching Out For You On Liberty Island

If the NYPD Harlem Panopticon wasn’t enough of an intrusion for you into your private life, don’t step foot on Liberty Island to visit the Statue of Liberty if you hope to preserve the remaining tatters of your anonymity:

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Blind and Black and the Governor of New York

Yesterday, David Paterson was sworn in as the 55th governor of the State of New York. Governor Paterson is also first Blind and Black man to hold that high office.

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Eyes on the Street in the Early Lives of Cities

In the early lives of cities, having “eyes on the street” was the prime way neighborhood crime was policed and thwarted. The classic, semiotic, image of that early neighborhood watch was the old woman leaning out the window, delicately balancing her elbows in a feather pillow on the windowsill as she watched the activity on the street below.

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Return of the Racist: Don Imus on ABC Radio

I suppose it was inevitable: Don Imus of “Rutgers Nappy Headed-Hos” fame is back on radio as of Monday and one can only begin to wonder about the why of his return.

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The FDNY Firefighter Spy

We’ve turned a horrible new page in the War on Terror as the FDNY — The Fire Department of the City of New York — have joined with the Department of Homeland Security to spy on residents.

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Naked Blogging as Semiotics Shall Rule the Word

We are living in the Golden Age of Text. We most effectively communicate on blogs, in email and via instant messages where The Word is King. However, in the next five years or so we will toss away our text — along with our newly enhanced ability to cogently write to persuade others — in favor of video: Semiotics Shall Rule the Word. There are active rumors that the next iPhone will have a touch screen that is a camera so you can do live video conferencing via iChat right on your phone. There is one proof-of-concept using the current iPhone that persuasively argues for video communication over text right now.

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