d'Archive Episode 52: Gary King, Organizing for Change 1974

This episode features an exhibition walkthrough with alumni Gary King (’74) who was active in organizing Black students during his time at the University of Connecticut, Storrs campus. One of the high-water marks for activism by students of color at UConn was the 1974 Black Student Sit-In in Wilbur Cross Library which he operated as a member of the internal steering committee of organizers to advance their demands. Dr. King, professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University, joined me in the Schimmelpfeng Gallery at the Archives & Special Collections in March of 2024 to walk through the exhibition Please Respond Personally: Commemorating the 1974 Black Student Sit-in (running March 11-July 19, 2024) for the event’s 50th anniversary.

The student sit-in was a direct action taken as a response to several grievances regarding lack of resources, diversity, and structural racism in higher education broadly and locally in the Anthropology Department. Two previous episodes have covered this history, d’Archive episode 51 featuring alumni and Organization of African American Students co-chairman Rodney Bass (’75) and d’Archive episode 26 an interview with Norman D. Stevens, who was the assistant director of the UConn Library during the 1974 sit-in.