Monarchs Crown Themselves

Teachers College alumna Shirley Chisholm once said, If you are not invited to the table, bring a folding chair. Our original logo featured a band of silhouetted figures. The fifth figure from the right adorned Columbia’s crown slightly tilted to the left, with the words #wearewelcomehere stretched across the chest of a navy blue sweatshirt. Teachers College, Columbia University Student Development Activities (SDA) reviewed our logo and told  us we would have to ask Columbia University for permission to use their crown. And though the request was not unreasonable, it prompted a discussion as to who has the right to wear the crown and whether we wanted to preserve this symbol for our campaign.

Origins of Columbia's Imperial Crown:

Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King's College by royal charter of King George II of England. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States. After the American Revolutionary War, King’s College reopened in 1784 with a new name—Columbia—that embodied the patriotic fervor that had inspired the nation's quest for independence. 


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We ultimately decided that real Monarchs crown themselves; a phrase taken from famed Black artist Jean Michel Basquiat. Our new logo replaces the Columbia Imperial Crown with the people's crown as imagined by Basquiat. We've requested permission from Basquiat's estate and pay homage and continue the artistic legacy of artists of color like Basquiat.  Happy Birthday Jean Michel Basquiat.