1 Until 1968, Northwestern had a reputation as “some kind of country club,” says Jeffrey Sterling, president of the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association and executive producer of The Takeover, a documentary directed by Brittany Applegate that premieres May 5 at Swissôtel Chicago. But a new group of progressive administrators admitted more black students, so there were nearly 80 on campus that academic year—more than three times the total number for the previous year.
2 Among the participants in the 38-hour student takeover of the bursar’s office was Eva Jefferson Paterson, Northwestern’s first black student body president. Now a civil rights attorney and cofounder of the Equal Justice Society, she’s litigated a number of groundbreaking affirmative action cases.
3 The university exceeded several of the protesters’ demands. Students requested classes in African American studies; the school created an entire department. They asked for the appointment of a faculty member to address their needs and got an office dedicated to African American student affairs. To this day, Sterling says, the sit-in “defines the experience of black students at Northwestern.”