The CUNY Digital History Archive Receives Prestigious Grant to Document Activism for Greater Access, Inclusion, and Diversity at CUNY

SLAM! (Student Liberation Action Movement) business card, by Jed Brandt. Retrieved from CUNY Digital History Archive.

The Metropolitan New York Library Council has awarded the CUNY Digital History Archive (CDHA), part of the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at The Graduate Center, $10,000 to document three movements by student and community activists starting in the 1960s seeking greater diversity, access, and inclusion in admissions and curriculum. 

This is the first year of the Metro Equity in Action Grant program, which funded projects that address “systemic issues of equity within the library system, uncover histories of racialized communities, and provide support to those in need during this time.” One of only four awarded citywide, the grant will pay for three students from The Graduate Center to work on the project and help support the CDHA coordinator.

Professor Stephen Brier (Urban Education, Liberal Studies, and Digital Humanities), CDHA’s lead historian, said that, “All three collections will offer insights into how student and community activists pushed CUNY, beginning in the 1960s, to broaden access for students of color; to expand and deepen CUNY’s curriculum to include Black and Puerto Rican history and culture; and to engage local New York City communities, particularly communities of color, in actively helping to shape CUNY’s present and future form and content.”  

This new collection will consist of documents from sources outside of existing CUNY campus archives. They will include a private archival collection of primary source materials on the organization, beginning in 1966-67, of the Bedford-Stuyvesant African American Community to push CUNY to found a new college in central Brooklyn, later Medgar Evers College; oral histories and transcriptions from SLAM! (Student Liberation Action Movement), a group of CUNY student activists that fought for increased public funding for CUNY in the 1990s. The third part of the collection will be oral history interviews and primary source material on the creation of the Puerto Rican Studies Program at Brooklyn College beginning in 1969.

The grant funds three doctoral student researchers from the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education. At Brier’s direction, the students — Lucien Baskin, Gisely Colón López, and Juliet Young — will assess primary sources, select the primary documents for the collection, and describe and contextualize each document for users of the archive. 

Student Research Opportunities 

The CDHA occasionally has opportunities for student researchers to work on particular collections. Interested students can reach out to Chloe Smolarski, CDHA coordinator, at

Published by the Office of Communications and Marketing

Submitted on: FEB 8, 2021

Category: American Social History Project | Diversity | General GC News | Grants | Student News | Urban Education