Martha Biondi is a professor of
History and African American Studies at Northwestern University. She’s known
for writing To Stand and Fight, which
was published in 2003 and is more recently known for also publishing the book, The Black Revolution on Campus, which
published in 2012. Martha Biondi is currently researching on neoliberalism in
Chicago, around the1980’s. Martha Biondi’s overall focus is on 20th
century African American History with a focus on politics, gender and other
activist movements. Some of the awards that Biondi was presented with include
the 2012 Nation Book Award, 2013 Wesley-Logan Prize and other awards such as
the Myers Outstanding Book Award and Thomas J. Wilson Price back in the early
The Black Revolution on Campus talks
about a time that is not too often discussed when one looks back at the 1960s
and 1970s. Biondi goes in depth on explaining how Black students were able to
organize a number of marches and protests, which ended up as a result, giving
black students the ability to negotiate and actually create change within the
education system. Biondi focuses on education further by mentioning how
students voiced their opinions against colleges and their lack of involvement
with the Black community. More importantly, she finishes off by explaining how Black
students end up creating intellectual impact that eventually lasted all
throughout the 20th and 21st century.
The Black Revolution on Campus looks at Black struggles and the Civil Rights Movement from
the point of view of students who wanted to forever change the way education
was looked at. Biondi in her book does not isolate the education system and
also makes sure to connect the development of the Black Power movement, Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. to the students. She captures the emotions of students
as prominent leaders were killed off and explains the relationship between the
two as more aggressive tactics, by the students, came into play.
Martha Biondi uses numerous amounts
of primary and secondary sources, such as interviews, archived research and
other factual information in order to prove her arguments. She makes sure to
list every protest and doesn’t forget to elaborate on the violence that
followed each event. Many of the protests, although sometimes non-violent, ended
with police brutality and injustice towards Black and white students.
Biondi starts off by talking about
San Francisco State College but then goes on to mention Northwestern University, South Carolina State
University, Southern University, and North Carolina A State University.
Some of her arguments and questions she tried to answer throughout the book
included, “At stake was the very mission of Higher education. Who should be
permitted entry into the universities and colleges? What constituted merit? Who
should be the future leaders of the nation in this post segregation era, and
how should this group be determined? What should be taught and who should teach
it? Perhaps most controversially, should students have a hand in faculty
selection or governance?” (Biondi, 1).
The Black Revolution on Campus contains eight
chapters, with a “Conclusion”, that as previously touched upon, discusses the
rise of the Black Power movement on different college campuses following the
assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After the conclusion, Biondi offers
a “Selected Bibliography” and “Notes” part that helps the reader understand the
types of sources presented in every chapter. In the “Acknowledgement” section,
she summarizes her experience while conducting her research, meeting activists
and writing this book, in particular.
In her first chapter, “Moving Toward Blackness: The
Rise of Black Power on Campus,” Biondi talks about the start of some of the
movements in the 60s and how different Black students felt, going into
traditionally white schools. Additionally, she also talks about the death
Malcolm X and MLK, the aggressiveness of Black students, the creation of the
Black Student Union, and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. These
newly created groups fought to bring Black curriculum, studies, and programs
into white colleges and opposed the assimilation of white culture.
In the second chapter, “A Revolution is Beginning:
The Strike at San Francisco State,” Biondi talks about the Black Student Union
at San Francisco State as the Black students there push for a Black studies
program to be applied. She talks about the struggle and opposing factors
against the request for a Black curriculum by the government of California.
In chapter three, “A Turbulent Era of Transition: Black
student and a New Chicago,” Biondi takes a broader approach and describes
multiple educational institutions in the Chicago area as they aim for the same
goal as previously mentioned colleges.
Chapter four, “Brooklyn College Belongs to Us: The
Transformation of Higher Education in New York City,” the author talks about
how Black students fought for the elimination of the GPA and SAT requirements
at the City College of New York.
In Chapter five, “Toward a Black University:
Radicalism, Repression, and Reform at Historically Black Colleges,” Biondi
talks about Black students and Black people in general, wanting a transition
from having white administration and staff running historically Black colleges,
to the hiring of Black staff in order to create a stronger connection between
the students and staff.
Chapter six, titled “The Counterrevolution on
Campus: Why was Black Studies So Controversial?” Biondi basically explains the
rights of Black students and whether they should have any say in who should be
hired or not. She also talks about what majors students have a right to pursue.
In Chapter seven, “The Black Revolution off Campus,”
Biondi explains how Black scholars decided on the curriculum, the advertisement
of Black studies to a broader audience and ways that Black educators would
educate the Black community.
In Chapter eight, her final chapter, “What Happen to
Black Studies” Biondi connects the past with the present as she describes Black
studies in colleges today. She shows the relationship between the expanded
black studies, which includes Black women, African diaspora and other forms of
As you may have already guessed, in her conclusion
titled, “Conclusion: Reflections on the Movement and Its Legacy,” Biondi
summarizes and connects all chapters of her book to one another in order to
give her readers a full synopsis of what she discovered with her research.
Black Revolution on Campus
is an amazing book that vocalizes the views and battles fought by Black
students during the 1960s and 1970s. Biondi is able to fully explain the
struggle of Black students and staff members as they fought for their right to
stand out and incorporate Black curriculum into colleges throughout the United
States. I believe that my interest was engaged throughout the book since Biondi
was able to remain honest and was able to mention some of the more violent
outcomes throughout this fight, such as the Orangeburg and South Carolina
massacres. She also had the ability to connect what happened in the classroom
to what was happening outside throughout the Civil Rights movement. I felt as
if I was getting the whole picture rather than only a hint of the truth.