The Morrill Hall/Rachel Tilsen Social Justice Connection

During 1968 after the assignation of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hundreds of organizations on and off campuses across the country took action to create social justice. In 1969, at the University of Minnesota, a campus of 40,000 students, only 87 were Black and none were from the local area. There was no mention of African American, Native American, Latino or other cultural histories. Many student groups still had written guidelines restricting the inclusion of Black students.

In 1968 the Afro American Action Committee (AAAC) emerged from the civil rights movement and  stood on the shoulders of the NAACP and the Niagra Movement. In 1969 thirty students sacrificed all that they had and staged a sit-in at Morrill Hall, then the President’s office at UMN and the hub of college business. They had 7 demands which included scholarships for bright local high school students, the establishment of an Afro American Department, and demanded integration of policy and governance organizations within the University of Minnesota.

Take a moment to view the AAAC’s award-winning video:

This story told by Rose Freeman Massey, Ph.D, Horace Huntley, Ph.D., and John S. Wright Ph.D. was also outlined in an article from the Mn Daily  Rachel Tilsen epitomized the term Social Justice. She was a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister friend and wife–and a good lawyer. She was a fierce freedom fighter and lover of life. She show us how to stand in quiet, and sometimes very noisy support of social justice regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, or cultural beliefs. These courageous 30 students and Rachel Tilsen, Ken Tilsen and the Tilsen generations give us an example of how simple actions create social justice for all. On their behalf, our project was chosen, and we are so grateful.

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