That Time Rutgers-Newark Black Students Took Over Conklin Hall 50 Years Ago, Renaming It “Liberation Hall”

Pictured above: Members of the Rutgers University Black Organization of Students (BOS) unfurl a banner renaming Rutgers-Newark’s Conklin Hall in February of 1969.

A little less than two years after the Newark rebellion of July 1967 and months before Fred Hampton’s assassination in December of 1969, Black student activists took over Conklin Hall at Rutgers-Newark.

Black Power had emerged throughout Newark by February of 1969, but not downtown. One major center of downtown was, and still is, the Newark campus of Rutgers University, one of the state (pun intended). So the members of the Black Organization of Students (BOS) took over Conklin Hall and renamed it “BOS Liberation Hall.” The group wanted more Black students, Black faculty and Black Studies.

The modern-day Rutgers-Newark, considered and celebrated as a place with the most diverse student population in the nation, has pointed with pride at how the takeover by what local history calls “The Conklin Liberators” forever changed it.

Below please enjoy the Rutgers-Newark panel from last month that commemorated that protest. –Todd Steven Burroughs

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