“The cops ruined what could have been a hell of a good riot.”
-anonymous student quoted in the Oct. 27, 1971 Commonwealth Times.
An iconic photograph that dramatically contradicted Richmond’s genteel segregationist reputation during the Civil Rights demonstrations of 1960 was snapped not by an Associated Press photojournalist, as widely believed, but by a little-known Richmond Professional Institute (now VCU) student named Malcolm Carpenter.
In late 1967, a new experiment in learning called “Free University” began appearing in various cities both as free-standing institutions and extensions of existing urban universities.
Fifty years ago, VCU’s predecessor, Richmond Professional Institute, endured a reputation as a college for working stiffs, bohemians and funky art students. Still, in this eccentric melting pot of starched business majors and black turtleneck bohemians, administration took student grooming very seriously, with one case nearly reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.