On Friday, Feb. 25 the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will dedicate its first historical marker, titled “Black Thursday,” to recognize the event and leave a permanent, commemorative reminder that the protest occurred nearly 43 years ago.
The Black Thursday historical marker will be placed at the site of the protest, outside the office of former President Roger Guiles and the Counseling Center on the second floor of Dempsey Hall. It will include the names of the 94 students who were expelled from the University in November 1968 after their list of demands, including more fair treatment by faculty and administrators, new African-American history and literature courses and better housing options, triggered protests.
Joshua Ranger, archivist at UW Oshkosh, said the historical marker program is about more than having plaques hung in several locations around campus, and not only would the UW Oshkosh community find these markers fascinating, but the residents of Oshkosh would as well.
“It represents a whole new level of commitment and procedure, much like our state program or those found in smaller communities across the country,” Ranger said. “We have been serving this region for 140 years, making us one of the oldest institutions in the community. There are chapters from our history that I believe people—and not just students, faculty and staff—would find quite interesting.”
Both Ranger and Stephen Kercher, associate professor of history, believe dedicating the first historical marker to Black Thursday represents a key chapter in local, state and national history, and the event is significant to the modern history of the University and its development.
“I believe it demonstrates this University’s commitment to the fair interpretation of history,” Ranger said. “Certainly, Black Thursday was not our finest hour, but historical markers should never be simply a form of community ‘boosterism.’ A commitment to history means that all important stories should be told.”
During the dedication, UW Oshkosh administrators, leaders and members of the Black Student Union and members of the Oshkosh 94 will speak about the significance of the event and what the historical marker means to the University, the Oshkosh community and to them.
“This dedication will bring generations together and create a dialogue between the Oshkosh 94 and current African American students at UW Oshkosh,” Kercher said.
Those attending the event will have an opportunity to speak one-on-one with UW Oshkosh administrators, faculty, staff and students, as well as members of the Oshkosh 94 at the reception, located at the Multicultural Education Center, following the dedication.
“It’s a moment for bringing people from different backgrounds together and engaging them in discussion about the event,” Kercher said.
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