Free the New Haven Panthers: The New Haven Nine, Yale, and the May Day 1970 Protests That Brought Them Together
The Black Panther movement played a pivotal role in New Haven during the 1970 May Day Rally. This student-curated exhibit explores the roles of the Black Panthers and Yale in creating a successful protest movement, representing the varying positions and perspectives that Yale affiliates and Black Panther organizers brought to the table in their disparate but related fights for justice and fairness. The exhibit is an attempt to grapple with just a small selection of critical archival holdings at Yale to give some sense of what the Black Power movement involved, what May Day constituted, and what happened after the arrest of those known as the “New Haven Nine.” Fifty-one years later, the events surrounding May Day 1970 still feel relevant, especially in the aftermath of last summer’s global protests for racial justice after the horrific murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many other Black Americans. “Much work remains to be done, but I hope that looking at the May Day Rally in a new light can be a part of this work,” writes Kathryn Schmechel ‘21, who curated this exhibit based on her senior essay. The highlights materials from Yale University Library collections, including the May Day Rally and Yale Collection in Manuscripts and Archives. An online version of the exhibition is also available.