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Howard students abandon building takeovers: 1969 | by Washington Area Spark
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Howard students abandon building takeovers: 1969

Led by Reginald Booker and Rev. Joe Gibson, Howard University students end their building seizure and march out of Douglass Hall toward a waiting detention bus, giving the clenched fist black power salute May 9, 1969.


Students at the school escalated their protests that had been intermittently going on for almost two years in May 1969 and seized most buildings on the campus and held an effective class boycott calling for more student say over curriculum, student discipline, integrating the school with the community and general campus affairs.


Reginald Booker, a leader of the fight against freeways and a leader of the D.C. Black United Front, played the role of mediator talking to both students and city officials in an attempt to avert a bloodbath.


After Howard obtained an injunction against the occupying students, more than 100 U.S. Marshals swept the campus arresting 20 students.


The city coordinated the sweep from a command center where Mayor Washington, Police Chief John Layton and Deputy U.S. Attorney Richard G. Kleindienst directed authorities.


Booker and Rev. Joe Gibson entered Douglas Hall as the marshals broke down the barricades and met alone with 16 students locked in a third floor room. The students decided to come out with Booker and Gibson.


A crowd gathered around the bus and began battling marshals with rocks and bottles—later doing the same with D.C. police. Booker said later a city-paid youth group acted as provocateurs, throwing rocks and bottles at police.


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The photographer is unknown. The image is a United Press International photograph housed in the D.C. Library Washington Star Collection.


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Taken on May 9, 1969