Looking Back 50 Years: The Classes of 1970 and 1971

Yearbook Pages

The classes of 1970 and 1971 went to Howard at a time that's often described as some of the most turbulent and glorious moments in United States history.

Students recall the race riots, the rise of the Black Panther Party, the first moon landing. They remember listening to Stokely Carmichael (B.A. ’64) speak on campus and where they were when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot.

They protested the Vietnam War in front of Douglass Building, which turned into a five-day sit-in, and witnessed Shirley Chisholm becoming the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. James Brown’s 1968 hit, “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” blasted through the radio waves, bolstered by fashion trends – the afro and African Dashiki clothing – that doubled as statements in the Black movement.

During those years, Howard’s own alumni also made headlines: Thurgood Marshall (LL.B. ’33) became the first Black Supreme Court Justice and Edward Brooke (B.A. ’41) became the first Black U.S. senator elected by popular vote.

“We were at Howard University at the best of times,” recalls Gaynelle Henderson (B.A. ’70, Ph.D. ’81), who was also Homecoming queen. “There was clamor for change and improvement for Black people. We went through the whole ‘I’m Black and I’m Proud’ movement at Howard when we connected more with our African roots.”

In honor of its golden milestone, the class of 1970 has launched a Reunion Giving initiative to give back to Howard, particularly in this unusual pandemic. To contribute, visit giving. howard.edu/give/1970Class.

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