Student Activism

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After the incident with Russell Jones on campus, students took action. First and foremost, on February 18, 1944, a letter to the editor was published to The Collegian by Julia Willis. This letter was the start of the influential affairs regarding this incident. The article stated what happened to Russell Jones, and it expressed the students disappointment in the administration. Students agreed that this policy and treatment of African American visitors on campus was “worse than those conservatives who are blatantly racist.” Many students believed that the racist policies this event spotlighted were unacceptable, and they wrote this letter as a response. Willis also adds that the rejection of Mr. Jones is contradictory to the values of Christian inclusion that the university claims to support. (Willis, 1944) 

An editorial, "We the Students" (1944), was soon after published including the petition itself. This indicates that there was an overall feeling among students at the university as students were looking for ways to get involved in resolving this issue. It states that students gathered on their own, with no incentive or inclusion of the administration, to write a petition discussing their anger due to the treatment of Jones. The article states that this petition was met with an enthusiastic response from the campus which indicates that a large population of the student body felt justified in calling out the administration's wrongful actions. 

Following the publication of the previous letter to the editor, students came together and published, “Come on, Kids, Let’s Snooze” (1944). In this petition, the author vocally discusses their disappointment with the administration for treating a speaker and guest at the university in this manner. The author also mentions that students have created a petition that has been sent to Boatwright in order to raise awareness and spark a change in the way African American speakers were treated on campus. This article reveals that not only were students uncomfortable with the racist treatment of African American’s on campus, but also that they were willing to take action against it.

The petition stated that the policy that African Americans may not eat in the dining hall tarnished the Universities dignity, and they demanded that African Americans be treated respectfully at interracial events. The author goes as far to say that it is “unchristian” to hold this racial attitude, and this attitude can be seen across many aspects of the campus.


"Come On, Kids, Let's Snooze." The Richmond Collegian XXX, no. 12, (April 14, 1944): 2.

"Letter To The Editor." The Richmond Collegian XXIX, no. 27, (February, 18 1944): 2.

"We the Students..." The Richmond Collegian XXX, no. 9, (March 8, 1944): 2.


Student Activism