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An Unseen LightBlack Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee$
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Aram Goudsouzian and Charles W. McKinney Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175515

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175515.001.0001

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Beauty and the Black Student Revolt

Beauty and the Black Student Revolt

Black Student Activism at Memphis State and the Politics of Campus “Beauty Spaces”

Chapter:
(p.330) Beauty and the Black Student Revolt
Source:
An Unseen Light
Author(s):

Shirletta Kinchen

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813175515.003.0015

At the height of the Black Power movement, African American students, especially those attending predominantly white colleges and universities, demanded access to and inclusion in their institutions’ resources. Their demands included Black Studies and Black History programs, the end of racist practices by faculty and administrators, and more culturally sensitive programs that reflected their lived experiences. This essay examines how the Black Power movement sought to redefine the beauty aesthetic by exploring how African American students at Memphis State University in the late 1960s and early 1970s politicized the campus positions traditionally reserved for white students. In 1970 Maybelline Forbes was elected the first black homecoming queen at Memphis State. As athletic teams began to integrate during the 1960s and 1970s, black women struggled to penetrate the membership ranks of cheerleading squads, serve as homecoming queens, and join other spaces that excluded them. This essay demonstrates how these positions became contested spaces for the larger black student protest movement, thus offering a different perspective on how black activists engaged in protest on college campuses in the Black Power era.

Keywords:   Black Power, Memphis State, integration, Maybelline Forbes, Black Studies

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