The Frederick Douglass Society, CCNY 1941
This 1941 photograph shows the members of the Frederick Douglass Society at City College (CCNY). The group, originally established in 1921 by ten black students, was one of the most active clubs on campus and, for several years, campaigned for the creation of a black history course. One of those picture here, Louis Burnham, served as president of the organization and was elected Vice President of the CCNY Student Council. After graduation he went south to organize the first chapter of the American Student Union on Black campuses.
Their efforts, aided by the support of the College Teachers Union and the American Student Union, met success in the fall of 1937 with the creation of a course entitled, "Negro History and Culture." Teaching the course was the newly hired Dr. Max Yergan, the first black professor in any of the city's public colleges. Yergan's time on campus was short-lived, however, as he would soon become targeted by the Rapp-Coudert Committee and denied reappointment.