50 years later, Northwestern students, alumni remember Bursar's Office takeover

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- On a dreary spring day in Evanston, marchers stepped off with a purpose.

"It's not for me, it's not for the people who did the takeover, it's to make Northwestern a place where people can be safe and get nurtured and get an education," said John Bracey Jr., who helped organize the Bursar's Office takeover 50 years ago.

During the march to the office on Northwestern University's campus, he pointed to an alley across from the Bursar's building.

"We were backed in behind there so you couldn't see how many people we had," he said.

Then, more than a hundred students jumped into action and took over the office for a 38-hour peaceful occupation.

ABC 7 News cameras were right outside of the building as black students and allies protested racism, low black student enrollment and financial aid for more than a day.

"And then we won," Bracey said.

The university conceded to their demands, including increased black student enrollment at the university and creating The Black House, a safe space for black students at Northwestern.

Five decades later, Northwestern Black Student Union President Kasey Brown said the demands listed in 1968 are "very similar to the fight we still have as black students here."

For her, the same question remains.

"What can we do to not only just like check the box on these demands, but to make sure these demands have longevity?" Brown said.

But Bracey said young people, "know that there's more work to be done and they're willing to do it, and that's what the whole thing is all about."
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