Writing Our Story


Gary Simpson

Publication Date


Coverage Date Range


Document Type

Oral History


Dr. Simpson begins the interview by discussing the factors that informed his decision to attend Denison, particularly the role of Clifford Tyree. After talking about his impressions of Denison before enrolling, Dr. Simpson addresses what was going on the country at the time he arrived on campus, focusing on the election of Ronald Reagan as President, and the differing reactions between white and black students. Dr. Simpson discusses issues of fitting in on campus, particularly since his incoming class had significantly more black students than the previous class. He mentions the numerous organizations he was involved in, including his induction to Phi Beta Kappa, and his reasons for being so active. Dr. Simpson discusses how black students on campus had different levels of interest in engaging with other black students. He mentions the solidarity he felt with certain faculty members, particularly when there were racial incidents on campus and these faculty opened up discussions of these incidents in the classroom. In addressing the power of the Black community, Dr. Simpson focuses on issues related to the funding of the Black Student Union. He talks about the different nature of black student protest during his time at Denison, compared to other time periods. Dr. Simpson discusses the broader phenomenon of Black Student Unions on college campuses, and what the BSU meant to him. He addresses the issue of the BSU’s current open membership policy. Dr. Simpson addresses the idea of power being an important component in defining racism. He contends that the BSU’s ideology of creating social transformation was a blend of radical, liberal, and conservative. Dr. Simpson discusses the ways in which the BSU educated the broader campus community about a variety of matters. He addresses some of the opportunities and burdens of being in the generation that were heirs to the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Simpson shares his thoughts on changes in Denison’s general education requirement over the years, and he recounts a story of a letter exchange with the Provost at the time over tenure for black faculty.

Is a Part of

Writing Our Story


Denison University


Denison University


Simpson, Gary (oral history)


Denison University

Repository Publisher

Denison University


Butler, Vanessa


Simpson, Gary

dwos_SimpsonFull_20100802.mp3 (73147 kB)
Gary Simpson Interview Audio File