Signs of the Times: The Knoxville Exchange

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Department 1



Between 1965 and 1969, the historically Black Knoxville College and the predominantly white Gettysburg College engaged in a student exchange program, the stated purpose of which was “to obtain a deeper understanding of individuals of another race and background through a spontaneous and beneficial meeting.” The program exemplified many tendencies of its time, starting with the idealistic desire of Black and white students alike to reach across the racial divide. But the Knoxville Exchange (as it was called at Gettysburg) struggled to remain meaningful, and then to survive, in an America increasingly given to racist violence and white terrorism, with Black activism pivoting from an ethics of non-violence to a politics of militancy. This presentation will give an account of the exchange program—its beginnings, its ending, and the historical context in which it so tenuously existed.

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Presentation given at the Friday Forum on March 18, 2022. The Friday Forum is a series of lectures given by members of the Gettysburg College community on their personal scholarly research, creative activities, or professional or curricular development activities.

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