On the 45th anniversary of the day the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and broader community would come to know as ‘Black Thursday,’ a new scholarship–one created to support the educational journey and success of African-American students–was announced.
On Nov. 21, 1968 African-American students at the then Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh engaged in dramatic demonstrations directed toward campus administrators when their requests for equal rights on campus were ignored. The tactics resulted in a mass arrest and the expulsion of 94 students, both black and white.
On Nov. 21, 2013, some of the “Oshkosh 94” joined representatives of UW Oshkosh’s Black Student Union, Black Thursday Remembered Oral History Project, UW Oshkosh Foundation and University administration to remember the events 45 years earlier and make the surprise introduction of the new scholarship–the African-American Student Leadership Award. The award will be given out each year in memory of the Oshkosh 94.
UW Oshkosh Professor and Department of History Chair Stephen Kercher called the scholarship “long overdue.”
“We’re so proud to offer this,” Kercher said.
“Arguably, (Black Thursday) is one of the most important events to occur here in our backyard,” he said, leading the Nov. 21 presentation in remembrance of the events of Black Thursday. “It’s a complicated legacy.”
The commemorative event filled Reeve Memorial Union’s theater with faculty, staff, students, community members and five members of the Oshkosh 94. It was hosted by the UW Oshkosh Black Student Union and the Black Thursday Oral History Project.
Kercher said he believes the scholarship is a legitimate representation of the Oshkosh 94’s desires; it will help make higher education more accessible through a cash gift propelling students.
“This award recognizes students who continue the efforts of the Oshkosh 94 to advance the standing and enhance the experiences of African-American students at UW Oshkosh,” so states the award’s description, on file with the UW Oshkosh Foundation.
The scholarship is available to full-time, African-American undergraduate students who are at least of junior status and who have demonstrated academic achievement and leadership in activities that benefit African-American students.
The first scholarship award will be given at this year’s 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Dinner, which will be hosted at UW Oshkosh on Monday, Jan. 20.
Applications for the scholarship are available in UW Oshkosh’s Center for Academic Support and Diversity and at the UW Oshkosh Foundation. Applications are due by Jan. 6.