Montreal’s Concordia University apologizes for reaction to Black students’ protests in the 60s

“Today, we must recognize how institutional racism manifests itself, not just historically, but in the current reality of our education systems, including higher education,” said university president Graham Carr.

Concordia University in Montreal has issued a public apology for its handling of a student-led anti-racism protest which ended with police forcibly detaining nearly 100 students in the late 1960s.

Six Black students in 1968 filed a complaint to the school, then-called Sir George Williams University, accusing biology professor Perry Anderson of discriminatory grading practices, including giving a higher grade to a white student who copied a Black student’s work, according to CBC.

10 months later, in response to a lack of action from the university, a crowd of students staged a 13-day occupation of a computer center on campus in what is now known as the Computer Riot or the Sir George Williams Affair, as reported by the outlet.

Concordia University. (Screenshot: YouTube – Concordia University)
Concordia University. (Screenshot: YouTube – Concordia University)

The university ultimately called police in to remove students from the room, resulting in the arrests of 97 students, with some sentenced to prison and jail for three years. Police reportedly forced students to lay on the ground littered with broken glass shards while arresting them, per CBC.

Graham Carr, president of the university, delivered the “long overdue” public apology on Friday during an event which featured two students who helped lead the standoff with the school, Rodney John and Lynne Murray, according to the outlet.

“Concordia University, with the support of its board of governors, apologizes for the decisions and actions of university leaders at the time. We also apologize for the harm that was caused to Black students at the university and for the negative impact felt by Black communities in Montreal and beyond,” Carr said during the event.

“Today, we must recognize how institutional racism manifests itself, not just historically, but in the current reality of our education systems, including higher education,” he said. “Yes, this public apology reflects our need to question past ideologies and past acts. It also holds us accountable to do better and reflects our commitment to strive every day to be a community where everyone can feel that they belong.”

Per the outlet, the apology follows directives from a 97-page report created by a task force the university formed in 2020 to help fight against anti-Black racism.

John said during the event that despite going on to earn five university degrees — a PhD, two master’s and two bachelor’s — that he continues to feel “unfulfilled” by his tenure in university.

“I did not do in university what I wanted to do. My life was directed by the arbitrary judgment of a white man,” he said. “And this arbitrary judgment on people of color still occurs to this day. And it is up to people of color and all people who are disadvantaged to say ‘Enough.'”

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today! 

The post Montreal’s Concordia University apologizes for reaction to Black students’ protests in the 60s appeared first on TheGrio.