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Book Spotlight: The Campus Color Line

The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom (Princeton University Press)

By Eddie R. Cole NWM ’17

Higher education has played an important role in some of the country’s most important civil rights issues. Colleges in the mid 20th century served as a hotbed for activism and resistance, particularly when it came to students. But what was the role in these battles for those leading the institutions?

In his first book, Eddie R. Cole examines how college and university presidents instituted and shaped racial policies that extended well beyond their campuses. While Black college presidents courageously sought to dismantle racist policies affecting their students protesting in the streets, their white counterparts at major universities pushed for urban plans that drove Black communities away from their campuses. Other presidents altered campus free speech zones and rules to allow speakers with racist views, while still others developed and implemented affirmative action programs.

The Campus Color Line is a stunning and ambitious origins story,” wrote Ibram X. Kendi of Boston University. “Embedded with breathtaking narratives recovered from meticulous research, this book vividly connects the actions of past college presidents to the racial issues that we, as a society, struggle with today.”

Eddie R. Cole is an associate professor of higher education and organizational change at UCLA.


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