University of Findlay’s Black Student Union (BSU) will celebrate its 50th anniversary during Homecoming & Family Weekend with a public open house, Black Tie Affair (separate from the annual February black tie dance), worship service, and plenty of reminiscing.
The open house, which will include BSU photos and correspondence from years past, will be hosted at the Buford Center for Diversity and Service, 1222 N. Cory St., on Friday, Sept. 27, from 7:30-9 p.m. All are invited to learn about and discuss the history of the BSU and Buford Center, and talk with current BSU members and learn more about their important academic and social influence on campus.
To register for the Black Tie Affair, visit www.findlay.edu/homecoming.
UF’s BSU was one of many Black groups across the nation to organize during the civil rights movement. “The Black students of FC (Findlay College) formed the BSU due to racial tension and the lack of Black awareness,” explained an Obelisk (student newspaper) article, written by William Cooper, Jr., for BSU’s Black Cultural Weekend in 1984. “The BSU was not formed to exclude other races, but to give the Black students a sense of security and togetherness.”
Activism was also an inherent attribute at the group’s inception. For instance, members burned the May 1971 Obelisk edition on dining hall tables to protest a racist Letter to the Editor printed in the publication, and seized the dining hall to emphasize the need for the group to have a meeting place designated by the college. Editorials and columns printed in the student newspaper during the late 1960s illustrate both the extent of the racial unrest, and Black students’ responses to it. “Such occurrences as obscene signs and notes being placed on residence hall doors of black students and the defacing of Christmas decorations clearly have no place on this campus,” the Obelisk editorialized in December 1968.In January 1969, BSU members Drusilla Ashley, Enid Pickett and Patterson A. Riley wrote a letter to the editor explaining the meaning behind the Black Power salute to the flag.
Since its inception, BSU has sought to educate other races about African American culture in order to debunk stereotypes and combat racism.
“There’s so much history, and I’m excited about it (50th anniversary celebration),” said Robert E. Braylock, Pharm.D. ’16, BSU’s current advisor and director of intercultural student services at the Buford Center. Braylock, who is taking the lead in organizing anniversary activities, is particularly looking forward to meeting people who were BSU members decades ago, he said.
Membership has ebbed and flowed over the years, with inactivity prominent during the 1980s, Braylock said.
“Today, BSU remains a viable organization” with about 20 to 30 active members, he noted. The need for such a group remains, he said, not so much because of overt racism, but because of underexposure of many UF students to people of other races and cultures. Braylock mentioned a University survey, conducted several years ago, that took note of UF freshmen and senior students’ lack of meaningful interactions with people from different races and cultures when compared to other institutions=.
BSU “is still as necessary today as it was back then,” he said.
In recent months, Braylock has been collecting information that reflects the group’s rich history. Items will be categorized by year and displayed in scrapbooks at the open house.
For more information about BSU’s 50th anniversary events, or to contribute information and memories about the organization, contact Robert E. Braylock at 419-434-6967 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.