Write Columbia's History
Jesse Jackson Comes to Campus
Elizabeth King
Columbia College 1988

Some of my most vivid memories are connected to the three weeks of apartheid protests in spring 1985, when I was a wide-eyed freshman at Columbia College. While I was not a participant, I respected the courage of the protesters, who, fairly or not, were compared to the mythical 1968 protesters. The padlocks and protests brought Jesse Jackson to speak on campus. I distinctly remember one of my core curriculum professors insisting on holding class. Not one of the more brilliant students, I was compelled to go to class or face the professor's promised academic demerits. As our obviously diminished numbers dragged into the worn classroom, the windows were opened to the spring air on the quad. The professor moved to close the windows and could see the crowds swelling. As she started to speak, Jackson's microphoned voice rose. After a few moments of trying to speak more forcefully than one of our nation's great orators, she gave up. Defeated, she released her charges upon the quad, into the spring air and towards a broader understanding of life outside the demanding classics of 116th and Broadway.

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