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Activism and Protests at Davidson College

A guide to archival collections and materials related to the history of student activism at Davidson College.

Post-Civil Rights Era

Since the period of integration and the Civil Rights Era, Davidson College has developed a continued commitment to diversity and inclusion, including the recognition and acceptance of various cultural groups. Student organizations, such as the Black Student Coalition (BSC), Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), and the Asian Culture & Awareness Association (ACAA), have formed in recent decades as a space for students to connect with individuals of their own background and to advocate for increased recognition and support from the college and surrounding community. 

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Student Government Association (SGA), formed a Solidarity Committee, which was focused on issues of diversity, inclusion, and the minority experience at Davidson. In 1986, when the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) marched down Main Street in Davidson, student leaders rallied and held a solidarity celebration on campus, rather than giving publicity to the Klan's march. This is just one example of on-campus activism related to issues of race on campus and the minority experience. Listed below are some resources from Archives and Special Collections related to this topic.

 Cover of the Davidson Journal, Fall 1990. Entitled "The Black Experience at Davidson"     Cover of the Davidson Journal, Fall 1996. Entitled "Black Reality at Davidson College"

Issues of the Davidson Journal containing reflections from Black students and alumni about the Black experience at Davidson.

(Left: Fall 1990; Right: Fall 1996)

Coverage in The Davidsonian

Campus publications, such as student newspaper The Davidsonian, covered events related to student activism and campus issues. For more information on advocacy and the minority experience on campus, browse digitized issues of The Davidsonian, online and available here. Individual issues are searchable by keyword.

Select articles related to advocacy and the minority experience at Davidson include:

"Solidarity Celebration overshadows Klan March" (May 2, 1986, pg. 5)

"Davidson must improve its awareness of the black experience" (February 10,1988, pg. 10)

"Get that flashlight outa my face" (March 20,1995, pg. 8)

"Addition of Alpha Phi Alpha called historic and 'overdue'" (October 8, 2003, pg. 4)

"Does my presence make you uncomfortable?" (February 20, 2008, pg. 8)

Archival Materials

Archival materials are the institutional records of Davidson College from its establishment in 1837 to the present day. Included within the collections are president's office records, academic department files, and student organization records. Listed below is a selection of relevant collections related to diversity and inclusion and equity. Collections are organized by record group, along with a brief description of the collection's contents, and are hyperlinked to the collection's digital finding aid.

Planning and Institutional Research, Self Study Records, 1965 - (RG 2-5-3)

Description: The office oversees the gathering and reporting of data for reports to government agencies, publications, and other organizations and coordinates applied research intended to inform institutional planning, policy formulation, and decision making. Included are reports on the student experience, the establishment of non-western studies programs, religious life, and "special populations" sub-committees.

Vice President for Academic Affairs, Committee on Pluralism (RG 3-1-2-006)

Description: The Committee on Pluralism was established in 1986 to develop and implement a program during freshman orientation that will enhance cooperation, interaction, and understanding between the races, as outlined in the Task Force Report on Racial/Ethnic Concerns. 

Student Work (RG 10-1)

Description: This collection consists of student papers donated by several academic departments, with most of these examples from the 1970s forward. Works include oral history interviews with members of the Westside Stakeholders, the Davidson Fire Department, the Ada Jenkins Center, and a handful of individuals associated with Davidson College in some way. There are also several student papers discussing racial barriers in the town of Davidson.

Black Student Coalition (BSC), Records, 1972- (RG 12-30)

Description: The Black Student Coalition was founded in 1967 "to establish and maintain a spirit of solidarity among the black students of Davidson College." Also included is a letter to Kappa Alpha fraternity requesting that they not flaunt their "Old South" practice and a newspaper article about the black population at Davidson. View some digitized records from the BSC here

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