Join the Librarian for White Plains History and current students from White Plains High School for the White Plains History Roundtable on Wednesday, April 22nd, at 7:00 pm. April’s Roundtable is called Education, Race, and Student Consciousness. The Roundtable is an educational, participatory, and social event where participants learn about events from White Plains’ past, examine primary source materials from the White Plains Collection, and engage in discussion with each other.
April’s Roundtable will focus on White Plains High School Students’ call for racial justice in 1968 and also examine how White Plains’ tradition of progressive education combined with its history of discrimination in economics and housing to influence events at the high school.
When most people picture students protesting in 1968, they think of Columbia University or anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, but young people in White Plains mounted their own protests and campaigns for change. In late March and early April 1968, more than one thousand White Plains High School Students boycotted classes and supported the efforts of student leaders who negotiated with the administration for changes in the curriculum and culture of the high school. The demonstrations and boycotts were led by black students calling for the inclusion of black history and culture in the curriculum of the school. They also wanted more black educators hired and human relations training for all teachers. In many ways, the students were successful and changes were made. However, many of the issues underlying the educational inequity at the school had their roots in the lives of adults and families outside of the school. Persistent discrimination in housing and employment meant that most black, Asian, and Hispanic families had little or no access to the educational, professional, and personal opportunities White Plains offered to white residents.
The story of White Plains High School in 1968 is fascinating on its own, but it is also a strong starting point for discussing broader issues. April’s Roundtable will include a discussion period, with all who attend and wish to participate. Current high school students will be on hand to give a contemporary perspective on the issues raised by the events of 1968. As always, our discussion and presentations will be supported by reports, newspaper articles, yearbooks, and other works from the White Plains Collection which combine to paint a vivid picture of life in 1968 in White Plains.
The image is from the 1968 Oracle, the White Plains High School Yearbook.