The Last Negroes at Harvard…a documentary that examines how an early version of what would become known as “affirmative action” played out in the lives of the nineteen African American men and women who were admitted to Harvard College in 1959. I was one of them. This documentary is about what happened to us on the path to Harvard, at Harvard, and after Harvard. We were the largest number of Blacks admitted in the College’s 300-year history.
When we entered Harvard, we were called “Negroes” but during our years there, we began to identify ourselves in our own terms. We invited Malcolm X to campus and heard him speak about blackness. Some of us took part in the Civil Rights Movement. We reached out to our African classmates and started the African and Afro-American StudentAssociation, the first of its kind at Harvard. Not all of us were activists; some of us just studied hard. We may have started as Negroes, but we graduated as Blacks or Afro-Americans. Harvard changed us, and we changed Harvard.
Now in our mid-sixties, we have lived through times of profound social, cultural, and political change. We have survived being Black in America, and we have stories to tell.
The Independent Production Fund, a 501(c)3 is fiscal sponsor for the project. Funds for production of a script treatment and edited trailer for this documentary have been provided by the Mass Humanities Foundation, the Yip Harburg Foundation, the Rita & Henry Kaplan Foundation and private donors.
This program is funded in part by the Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.