15. In 1968, A Proposed Gym Sparked Widespread Protest and School Shutdown

Plans for a gym at Columbia University
Plans for the Morningside Gym. Image via WikiCU, user Tao tan

In 1960, Columbia University proposed the construction of a new gym in Morningside Park. A way to keep students fit, beautifying the crumbling Morningside Park. A win/win, right? Not so much. The construction of this gym started a huge student protest/strike which temporarily shut down Columbia and was part of a huge chain of student uprisings around the world.

So what was wrong with this gym? It had two doors: one for Harlem community residents who were predominantly black and one for students who were predominantly white. According to WikiCU, The door for community residences was in the back of the gym on a lower level, while the door made available to students was a grand entrance in the front of the gym. The policy was initiated the year of Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination, only adding to the tension already in the air.