“That Jewish Crowd: Prejudice, Protest and The Politics of Fair Education Law in New York, 1945-1950”
Friday, October 25th
On April 11, 1949, police arrested seventeen student picketers outside The City College of New York’s (CCNY) uptown campus. These seventeen protesters were only a few of the estimated 3,000 who walked out of class that day to join a massive student strike calling for the removal of two professors.1 One, William C. Davis, of the Economics Department, was formerly the head of Army Hall, a brand new dormitory shared by CCNY, Columbia, and NYU, established for returning World War II veterans. Less than a year earlier, two of these African- American veterans had accused Davis of intentionally segregating the dorm’s residents by race.2 A faculty committee report found Davis’ explanation for this policy — “Negroes seem to congregate by themselves in the cafeteria and recreational halls” — lacking and, as a result, he stepped down as director of the residence hall.3 Shortly thereafter, however, Davis re-assumed his position in the economics department and received a pay raise. CCNY administrators had, in the eyes of the students, promoted and condoned the actions of a segregationist.