Reunion of early black alums, 1973

Reunion of early black alums, 1973
Courtesy MIT Museum

Reunion of four early black alums at the Black Student Union Lounge, 8 February 1973
Pictured left to right: Arthur R. Blackwell '51, Robert P. Pinckney '52, Herbert L. Hardy '52, and Ernest M. Cohen '64

Four grads recount the Black experience

Walter T. Middlebrook, The Tech, 13 February 1973

"The outstanding Blacks in time have had to be outgoing, outspoken, and exude an attitude of prominence," says Ernest M. Cohen '64. This is just one of many lessons students and faculty of MIT learned at an informal disculssion held in the Black Student Union Lounge last Thursday.

Cohen, along with Arthur R. Blackwell '51, Robert P. Pinckney '52, and Herbert L. Hardy '52, were the featured Black MIT alumni leading the discussions on their experiences as students at MIT and as professional engineers.

The more than 45 persons who came to the discussion heard of the discrimination that existed in the engineering field for Blacks and how the times and their individual efforts overcame this discrimination.

According to Blackwell, "the best jobs did not go to Black engineers; promotions were few. However, industry, especially aerospace, is trying to remove these inequalities."

Realizing the similarities' between the plight of the Black engineer and that of the Black student, students asked the alumrni what happens when the government eases its pressure on the private industries. It seems that the basic groundwork has been laid, noted Blackwell. "At my company, for instance, if there was any relaxation, our company would continue its policies for minorities. At what rate, I'm not sure."

On the question of women, the men pointed out "management presents less resistance to the acceptance of Blacks than women in top positions." An example presented by Hardy showed how once he had hired a woman for a position on his staff and his supervisor had okayed this move, but a higher-up in the organization declined to approve this action, technically firing her. "Of course, we paid no attention to him, but this is the type of situation we're in all the time."


Timeline: 1970s
School: School of Engineering
Life: Black Alumni/ae of MIT (BAMIT)Black Students' Union (BSU)
Career: CommunityEducationEngineering
Object: Image
Collection: Critical Mass 1955-1968, Ernest Cohen, Integration and Differentiation 1969-1994, Mentorship, STEM Education, Students, Talks, Women