On April 26, LaQuita Henry walked into the main administration building at The Ohio State University like she had done on the same day, and nearly the same time, 50 years earlier. The circumstances, though, could not have been more different.
“I believe we were actually there a little bit before 10 a.m. It was right before noon that the administration building was taken over because there was so much resistance to what was being stated and what we were trying to negotiate – a change on campus,” Henry said.
Henry was one of the leaders of the Black Student Union at Ohio State who staged a protest inside what is now Bricker Hall to bring issues of educational inequality, racial disparities and police misconduct to the attention of university leadership in 1968. The flashpoint for the protest came after four black female students were kicked off a bus and allegedly harassed by campus police. Once the protest began, students pushed for more diversity in academic leadership, courses and the student body.
Henry joined several of her former classmates on a bus tour of the Columbus campus to get a sense of how much the university has changed. They were also the guests at receptions hosted by the alumni association, ODI and the African American and African Studies Community Extension Center, and they were guests of President Michael V. Drake.
John Sidney Evans was the spokesman for the Black Student Union at the time of the protests. He, like 33 of his peers, was expelled and criminally charged for the takeover of the administration building.
All had to fight to clear their names and reverse their expulsions. Evans said they also had to fight for their place in history.