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Announcing the Harry Jacobus Collection

Posted on: | by James Maynard, Ph.D. |

Harry Jacobus CollectionThe Poetry Collection is happy to announce the opening for research of a new Harry Jacobus Collection, selections of which are also available as a digital collection.

Harry Jacobus was deeply involved in the San Francisco Abstract Expressionism movement of the early 1950s. After serving in World War II, he moved to California, enrolling first at the Oakland School of Arts and Crafts and later The California School of Fine Arts, where he studied with Clyfford Still and David Park. He also met fellow student Jess, and in turn Robert Duncan. Together, they opened the King Ubu Gallery in December 1952, which quickly—though briefly—became the center of the avant garde art, music, and poetry scene in San Francisco. The King Ubu Gallery hosted exhibitions by artists such as Elmer Bischoff, David Park, Hassel Smith, Jess, Lyn Brockway, Roy De Forest, and Deborah Remington, as well as poetry readings and performances.

During the 50s and 60s, Jacobus traveled through Europe, particularly Hydra, Greece, as well as Mexico. Back in California, he lived at the “Ghost House” on Franklin Street and later in Stinson Beach, always remaining close to Duncan and Jess, physically as well as artistically. Jacobus was profoundly influenced by Duncan and Jess’s ideas about imagination, as well as by French Modern painters, particularly les Fauves. Artists and critics often focus on the romanticism, color, and light of Jacobus’s paintings. Duncan called him “a painter in a mixed light,” noting that his work “is an intimation of the beauty around us as it is within us.”

A full finding aid is forthcoming. In the meanwhile, please contact with any questions or research queries.


Posted on: | by Amy Vilz |

LGBT at UBby Nissa Thor, UB DLIS graduate student

In 1970, in the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, a group of UB undergraduates started this campus’s first undergraduate student organization for gay students, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). GLF was both a social and political organization for gay men at UB. As the years went on and attitudes changed, the organization too changed its name to be more inclusive to the other members of the community. In 1980, GLF became the Gay People’s Alliance. In 1982, the organization changed its name once again, to Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA). Around 1989, GALA became the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance (LGBA).

The undergraduate group was not the only LGB organization on campus. UB has had groups for graduate students (GGALA) and law students (OUTLAW), as well as for faculty and staff. In fact, the Graduate Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GGALA), which unfortunately disbanded in 1996 due to lack of involvement, was the only graduate gay and lesbian student organization in Western New York.

While the name of the organization has changed over the years, the central focus has not. Providing a safe space for students to socialize and work to fight homophobia on (and off) campus, as well as events for education and celebration, such as coffee houses, conferences, ‘Coming Out Week’ and Denim Day, have remained important parts of the organization during the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Documents relating to the history of LGBT at the University at Buffalo have been digitized and are available online. This collection will continue to grow to encompass more items from the 1970s to 1990s, and in time will include the 2000’s. If you would like to donate materials related to the LGBT community at UB, please contact University Archives at


*This post is part of an occasional series written by University Archives graduate assistants and practicum students.  To prepare students for careers in Special Collections, our graduate assistants survey, process, and describe archival collections, digitize items for online use, and provide reference service to patrons.  These posts allow our students to share their experience and impressions of working with primary source material in the Archives.

Malcolm X Debates on University at Buffalo Campus

Posted on: | by Scott Hollander | 1 Comment

Malcolm X - 1964 Library of Congress PhotoOn April 24, 1963, over 700 people filled two room in what is now the University at Buffalo’s South Campus to hear Malcolm X debate the Rev. Clarence L. Hilliard, pastor of the St. Paul Baptist Church in Lackawanna, NY.

Malcolm X was invited by the U.B. Student Association. By 1963, Malcolm X was reportedly the second most sought-after speaker on college campuses. (Barry Goldwater was the first.)

Although espousing separation of races, Malcolm X denied the Muslim movement was a “hate organization.” He said “We’re not anti-you, we’re just pro-us.” (see “Black Muslims Raps School Integration” Buffalo Courier-Express, 24 April 1963)

Rev. Hilliard was born and raised in Buffalo. He received a bachelor’s degree in Bible from Houghton College in 1969 and then moved to the Chicago area. Rev. Hilliard had a long career and became a sought-after speaker in his own right. He traveled from Nigeria to Thailand carrying his message of racial reconciliation.

Share your story!

Did you or someone you know attend the Malcolm X debate? We invite you to share a memory about what it was like to attend.

Black Muslims Raps School IntegrationDebates at UB

Black Muslim Raps School Integration

Malcolm X Little of New York, spokesman for the Negro nationalist Black Muslim movement, criticized school integration as another type of “Uncle Tom” thinking in a debate Wednesday in the University at Buffalo’s Norton Hall.

Little and the Rev. Clarence L. Hilliard, pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church, 264 Ridge Rd., Lackawanna, expressed opposing philosophies on “The Negro Problem in the United States.” The debate, heard by more than 700 persons in two rooms, was sponsored by the university’s Students’ Assn.

The Rev. Mr. Hilliard sharply criticized the Buffalo Board of Education for failing to grate more schools. In a question session following the debate, he said he opposed plans for a separate school tor troublesome pupils because “The school will wind up being all Negro, and the Supreme Court has rated that segregated schools are inherently inequal.”

Little, who criticized Negroes for trying to adopt the white man’s culture, replied: “Now you are telling little black pupils that there is something so wonderful about the white man that they are going to become much smarter just by having one or two white pupils in their classrooms. This shouldn’t be true, if white and black are equal.”

Little is a former convict who embraced the Muslim creed while serving a jail sentence. He, like other Muslims, abandoned his “slave name,” Little, for the symbolic “X.” The Muslim movement believes that Negroes and whites should be separated. The sect operates its own schools in many cities.

Says Negroes Lulled

Little was critical of both “white liberals” and Negro “Uncle Toms” who try to speak for the average Negro. He said Negroes had been lulled for 100 years waiting for— in order—the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 14th Amendment, and the Supreme Court school desegregation ruing to give them full civil rights.

“The white man doesn’t know how the Negro thinks and feels, doesn’t know the effect segregation has on a Negro’s mind, and can’t know as long- as he refuses to face reality,” Little said.

He said the “refusal to face reality” is by relying on Negro spokesman (“Uncle Toms”) who tell the whites what the white man wants to hear.

He said when Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-NY) recently criticized the National Assn. of the Advancement of Colored People for having white members, the whites interviewed their “hand-picked, tried-and-true Jackie Robinson, and asked them ‘Does Powell speak for the Negro?’”

Little said the interviewed Negroes all replied, ‘Why, boss, you know Powell is wrong.”

Although espousing separation of whites end Negroes, Little denied the Muslim movement is a “hate organization.” He said “We’re not anti-you, we’re just pro-us.”

Buffalo Courier-Express, April 25, 1963

Ralph Nader on Buffalo Campus – Earth Day 1970

Posted on: | by Scott Hollander |

Ralph Nader - University at Buffalo - Earth Day 1970On April 22, 1970, American political activist Ralph Nader was the keynote speaker of the University at Buffalo’s first Earth Day activities. Nader spoke before a standing-room-only crowd of 4,500 in Clark Gym on the South Campus.

During his speech, Nader sharply condemned the industrial oligarchies for contributing to the destruction of already-ravaged environment. He addressed the problems of pollution, labeling the local Buffalo River a “fire hazard and private sewer for industries.”

He urged the students to raise funds and form an “action army to work full time challenging and investigating government and business.” “Don’t swallow the concocted belief of the impenetrability of government and institutions,” he assailed.

For details, see “Nader Says Real Violence Comes From Corporations” UB Reporter, 23 April 1970 (PDF).

The Ralph Nader photos are part of the Prominent Visitors to Buffalo digital collection and come from the University Archives. This collection chronicles many of the politicians and activists that visited Buffalo in the past 50 years. Documentation from the University Archives includes photographs, coverage of events from the UB Spectrum student newspaper, and related ephemera.