"You Can Kill a Man, but You Can't Kill an Idea"
The History of Medgar Evers College
Medgar Evers College has the distinction of being the youngest of the four-year senior colleges in The City University of New York. In the early 1960's, the Central Brooklyn community recognized the need and expressed a desire for a local public college. Through various community organizations including, but not limited to, the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council, and the NAACP, and through their local elected officials, the residents of Central Brooklyn approached the Board of Higher Education of the City of New York with this request. Members of the various community-based organizations constituted the Bedford-Stuyvesant Coalition on Educational Needs and Services, which served as the primary vehicle for interfacing with the Board of Higher Education. After many discussions and much involvement by community residents and the Coalition, the Board of Higher Education, on November 17, 1967, "approved the sponsorship of Community College Number VII, with the indication of an intention to admit students in the Fall of l969."
On February 13, 1968, the Board of Higher Education announced that the college would be located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. On January 27, 1969 the Board approved the establishment of an "experimental four-year college of professional studies offering both career and transfer associate degrees and the baccalaureate degree, to be located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, said college to be established in place of a previously approved but not started new Community College VII, and further directed that the City University Master Plan be amended accordingly." This action was endorsed by action of the Regents on March 20, 1970.
The Board of Higher Education Proceedings of April 14, 1970 reflect the Board action, which modified the 1968 Master Plan to delete Community College Number Seven and listed in lieu thereof under Senior College, "College XVII, Mid-Brooklyn, Initial Facilities, Estimated Cost: $10,000,000." The College was officially established on July 30, 1970 when Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller signed the legislation approving the "establishment of an experimental four-year college of professional studies offering both career and transfer associate degrees and the baccalaureate degree..." Finally, on September 28, 1970 the Board of Higher Education approved the recommendation from the College’s Community Council that the name of the college be Medgar Evers College, in honor of the martyred civil rights leader, Medgar Wiley Evers (1925-1963). In recognition of this, September 28th is observed as "Founders’ Day" at Medgar Evers College.
On December 2, 1970, the Medgar Evers College Community Council, chaired by John Enoch, and the Board of Higher Education co-hosted an announcement ceremony at the Y.M.C.A. on 139 Monroe Street in Brooklyn. Chairman Enoch stated, "The Medgar Evers College, reflecting the image of the martyred leader who dedicated his life to the cause of individual freedom, dignity and personal fulfillment, will add another pillar of strength to the growing educational, economic, cultural and social foundations of the central Brooklyn community and New York City." Mr. Evers’ widow, Mrs. Myrlie Evers, and two of the couple’s three children flew in from Claremont, California for the ceremony. She was presented a scroll that cited Mr. Evers’ "...effective contribution to the cause of human freedom and dignity...In choosing the name of Medgar Evers, it is our hope that his ideals will inspire students and faculty of the college in their pursuit of truth as the surest path to human freedom and social justice."
The community was then and continues to be an important force in the life of the College. The method of planning for the college and selection of its first president were unprecedented in the history of the Board of Higher Education. For the first time, representatives of the local community participated actively in the decision-making process. Seven members of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Coalition on Educational Needs and Services served on the Presidential Search Committee and the mandated Community Council was organized in the Spring of 1970 under the leadership of Mr. John Enoch, Acting Chairman. The sense of commitment and service to the community, which pervades throughout the College, may be attributed directly to the multi-faceted roles, which the Community Council and the community as-a-whole, have played in the establishment, growth and development of this institution.
Medgar Evers College/CUNY
1650 Bedford Ave. | Brooklyn, NY 11225 | 718-270-4900