Of student unrest and civil rights: a history of the 1960 alabama state college sit-in movement and the demise of in loco parentis
This study discusses the student activism that led to the legal case that established due process rights for students at state-funded colleges and universities. In 1960, Alabama State College students organized a sit-in demonstration against Jim Crow segregation and subsequently challenged their expulsion from the college for taking part in the demonstration, which became known as Dixon v. Alabama. The Dixon decision had a substantial and enduring impact on not only the Civil Rights Movement, but also student rights in disciplinary proceedings at U.S. colleges and universities. The few previous examinations of these events have focused on the legal case and, more often than not, the mythology of the history of student services, failing to attend to the fact that due process for college students originated with civil rights protests. Examinations of the actions of the Alabama State College students, and the implications of the ruling in the Dixon case on the Civil Rights Movement and student activism are presented. This study details the actions of the students, highlighting their principled commitment to change, as well as the college president who faced unrelenting pressure from the racist Alabama governor and expected strong community response if he complied with the governor’s demands to expel the students.