Back in the strike of ’69

1969. The first steps on the moon. Vietnam War protests. And at UNCG, a big strike and protests. 

The cafeteria workers, a majority of whom were black, expressed dissatisfaction with working conditions and low pay. Hundreds of students joined the picket lines in support. The Student Government Association, in a controversial move, voted to use student funds to pay for a lawyer for the strikers.

The lawyer, Henry Frye, worked behind the scenes with then-Chancellor Ferguson. Student government president Randi Bryant Strutton, aware that a large group of protesters from on-campus and the community threatened to damage the Chancellor’s House, mollified them by saying she’d just learned he agreed to speak with them in the morning. Then she had to work with others to convince him to do just that.

Ultimately, the workers got more than they’d originally asked for. And there was no violence.

By Mike Harris
Image courtesy UNCG Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives.

Former SGA president Randi Bryant Strutton’s article in the alumni magazine, 10 years later
Archivist Erin Lawrimore’s Spartan Stories post on the Food Service Workers Strike of 1969


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