African American Student Leadership Award
The African American Student Leadership Award recognizes students who continue efforts to advance the standing and enhance the experiences of African-American students at UW Oshkosh. This award was created through a project to commemorate “Black Thursday,” the November 21, 1968 protest by African-American students attending UW Oshkosh. Applicants must be African-American students, enrolled full-time at the Oshkosh campus, have between 60 and 89 credits, and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students graduating in the current academic year are not eligible to apply.
A month before the “Black Thursday” protest, members of the Black Student Union (BSU) had presented campus administrators with a list of requests. In addition to calling for courses in history and literature that were relevant to the African-American experience, the BSU advocated the hiring of black faculty and the creation of a new African-American cultural center. Suspecting their concerns were not reaching University President Roger Guiles, BSU members decided to assemble as a group, march to Dempsey Hall and confront him in person.
As a result of the students’ occupation of the executive administration offices, there were mass arrests, the expulsion of 90 students and the suspension of four others (the “Oshkosh 94”). In the ten months that followed, WSU-O committed itself to making a series of improvements for black students on campus. It recognized a new black students organization, the Afro-American Society, and converted the campus Intercultural Center into a new Afro-American Center. Faculty members began offering classes on black history and literature.