Black Power at Illinois

In the fall of 1968, the University of Illinois launched the Special Education Opportunities Program which brought 568 "poor and disadvantaged" freshman to Champaign-Urbana. The SEOP, also known as Project 500, tripled the number of African American students on campus and triggered changes that reverberate to the present day.  Why did such a dramatic event occur? How did it affect what had been a nearly "lily-white" university? What legacies did it leave? This exhibit will explore all of these questions, as well as others.


Inside the collections, click on any picture of an exhibited item for details.  Browse through groups of items by using the menu on the right or the "Next Page" and "Previous Page" buttons at the bottom of each item description.

For more on this topic, see a collection of oral history interviews at the University of Illinois Archives


Created by Students in History 386, Public History, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Thanks to Mr. Clarence Shelley and Dr. James Anderson for their advice and insights. Thanks to William Maher and the staff of the University Archives for their assistance and advice. Finally, many thanks to Harriett Green of the University Library who provided timely technical advice and encouragement. This exhibit rests on the foundation provided by Joy Ann Williamson's history of Project 500: BLACK POWER ON CAMPUS: THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, 1965-1975, published by the University of Illinois Press (2003)