The "BAD Times" digital collection includes twenty issues of newspapers published between 1971 and 1977 by the Black Americans for Democracy, a student organization founded at the University of Arkansas in the late 1960s.
A Digital Collection of the Black Americans for Democracy Newspapers
This digital collection includes twenty issues of newspapers published by the Black Americans for Democracy (BAD), a student organization founded in the late 1960s. Active at the University of Arkansas during most of the 1970s, BAD published the newspaper between 1971 and 1977 under three different titles: The BAD Times, Black Americans for Democracy News, and Times (Black Americans for Democracy).
The newspaper collection, housed in the Arkansas Collection of the University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections Department, has been frequently used by students and scholars. However, the original newspapers are in fragile condition, so by providing the entire holdings in digital form, the University Libraries can promote even greater use of the collection, while also preserving the important publications in their original form.
Amy Allen and Janet Parsch coordinated this digital exhibit. Others involved include Alexsis Bell, Beth Juhl, Deb Kulczak, Arthur Morgan, Tim Nutt and Joshua Youngblood. Additional work was done by Angela Black, Joshua Broxson and Catherine Worthington, students of Florida State University.
BAD published the newspapers at a time that was still an early stage in the integration of public universities in the American South. The newspapers illustrate both the challenges faced by African American college students in Arkansas and the significant organizational work students undertook in order to make the University campus and community of learning more accommodating and enjoyable for the University’s increasingly diverse student body. Although it had been nominally integrated since 1948, black students remained a small minority at the University of Arkansas for the following twenty-plus years. In 1969, fewer than 150 out of the 9,000 students at the Fayetteville campus were African American. BAD was the first organization on campus founded specifically to increase black awareness, and as a student-run organization it was able to aggressively pursue changes and new programs, pushing the University as a whole to adapt.
Strongly informed by the Black Power movement that emerged in the 1960s, BAD gave voice to the demands of black students for more rapid integration of the Fayetteville campus: more black students, faculty, and administrators; more programs to address the issues in their lives; more social opportunities; and a greater awareness of black culture. BAD began their newspaper in order to ensure that greater attention was paid to black students, who they felt were not adequately covered in the campus-wide student newspaper, the Arkansas Traveler. One story regarding BAD’s founding concerns the letter of a black student submitted in May 1968 to the editors of the Traveler that was never printed. The Traveler editors cited racially charged language when defending their decision to not run the letter, which was written in response to published letters from white students that criticized the excessive attention being paid to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the month before.
Although BAD did not have office space when it first began, by 1970 it was working out of an office in the old student union building (Memorial Hall), down the hall from the assistant dean for black students. Among the issues for which BAD very quickly gained notoriety was the protests it led against the playing of “Dixie” at pep rallies and home football games. Throughout the 1970s, the newspaper pushed for greater integration of student life, university programs, and athletics. According to the Blacks In Prospective orientation handbook from 1975, since its founding, “Black Americans for Democracy (B.A.D.) has continued to serve as a sounding board for the many different problems that plague Black students on campus,” seeking to make all aspects of the University relevant to the lives of black students through the activities and publications it sponsored.
BAD tried to counteract the deficiencies in entertainment and social activities for black students by creating new groups, such as a choir and drama club. BAD engaged black students in community causes, such as tutoring students in the city schools, and created Black Emphasis Week. In addition to coverage of the activities orchestrated by BAD, the annual Miss BAD contest, and the development of black fraternities and sororities on campus, the BAD newspapers paid close attention to institutional issues, such as the rate of hiring of black faculty members and administrators and the development of a Black Studies program. Numerous students contributed articles to the newspapers during its six-year run. Acclaimed writer E. Lynn Harris wrote and edited for the BAD newspapers before becoming the University’s first African American yearbook editor and graduating with honors in 1977.
By the end of the 1970s, the percentage of African American students at the University of Arkansas had increased more than four-fold, largely as a result of state initiatives to encourage black enrollment in predominantly white schools and a new plan to increase enrollment to thirteen percent by 1983. Over the six years that newspapers were produced by BAD, the organization’s success at pushing for greater social and political integration of the Fayetteville campus is apparent. Articles gradually focused more on the participation of black students in campus life as a whole. Over the course of the 1970s, the influence of the Black Power movement and the radical approach to black awareness and advocacy evident in BAD’s activities and publications earlier in the decade gradually decreased. By decade’s end, BAD was seeking to build stronger connections with other student organizations.
BAD changed its name in 1979 to Students Taking A New Dimension, or STAND, while retaining many of the services and programs it offered African American students at the University, including a week devoted to black awareness. One of the many accomplishments of the organization during the 1980s was the successful petitioning of the Associated Student Government for two permanent senate seats for black members of STAND. In the 1990s, the organization opted for another name change—the Black Student Association—in order to better define its activities. The Black Student Association is still an active campus organization serving to advance the social, economic, and political concerns of the University’s black students.
Blacks in Prospective, 1975-1976. s.l: University of Arkansas, 1975.
Leflar, Robert A. “Blacks on the Main Campus.” In The First 100 Years: Centennial History of the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Foundation, Inc., 1972.
Moore, Mordean Taylor. “Black Student Unrest at the University of Arkansas: A Case Study.” Thesis (M.A.), University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, 1972.
Morgan, Gordon D., and Izola Preston. The Edge of Campus: a Journal of the Black Experience at the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1990.
Robinson II, Charles F., and Lonnie R. Williams. Remembrances in Black: Personal Perspectives of the African American Experience at the University of Arkansas, 1940s-2000s. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2010.
Toudji, Sonia. “Affirmative Action at the University of Arkansas.” Université du Maine, 2006.
The newspapers were scanned using an Epson Expressions Scanner, Model 1640XL with a 12” x 17” scanning bed. Pages were originally scanned as TIFF files at 600 dpi for use as preservation copies. The images were converted to PDF using Adobe Acrobat X Pro version 10.1.1. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was added using ABBYY Fine Reader 10 Professional Edition.