By Pen, Sword, and Struggle

African American High School Student Activism in Lawnside, New Jersey


  • Jason Romisher Simon Fraser University



This article is an examination of African American high school student activism during the black freedom struggle by youth from Lawnside, New Jersey; one of ten self-governing African American communities in the United States.  A critical factor in Lawnside’s historical narrative is that its young people both historically and today attend segregated elementary school and then integrated high school in the historically all white community of Haddon Heights.  From 1965-1971, many African American young people from Lawnside were inspired to address decades of inequality and African American educational and cultural concerns by engaging in acts of collective violence and non-violent direct action.  These protest efforts included a boycott, two sit-ins, a protest march, and a formal list of demands. African American high school students from Lawnside expressed similar grievances to African American youth in other locations, they demonstrated considerable activist autonomy from parents and outside organizations, and female students often held positions of influence and leadership.