February 12, 2018
Old school: U-M in History
A 1927 photo of the Negro-Caucasian Club, one of the first of its kind in the country. (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library)
Formed in 1925, the Negro-Caucasian Club (its name a reflection of its time) was inspired after a pair of friends, one black and one white, were deliberately given dirty dishes instead of service at a local restaurant. After the club's contested approval by the faculty senate's Committee on Student Activities, its first action was to survey white students' opinions on black people, which found a "belief in the sub-humanity of Negroes and unfamiliarity." In response, they invited famous black intellectuals to campus including philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke of the Harlem Renaissance, and W. E. B. DuBois. However, the club's lasting legacy, at least for its members, was a sense of normalcy. One black student wrote, "(the club) helped relieve the Negro student's sense of isolation."