Black Student Union Celebrates 50 Years at Holy Cross

Nearly 300 alumni and current students spent a weekend honoring the history and importance of the organization

The Black Student Union (BSU) at College of the Holy Cross celebrated its 50th anniversary with a wide range of empowering workshops, performances and a celebratory dinner with a keynote address from Loretta E. Lynch, former United States Attorney General.

"To all the alumni of the school and the Black Student Union, congratulations on this anniversary," Lynch said to the many alumni and students gathered in the Hogan Ballroom.

"To the founders and early members who are here, your first thought might be, 'Where did that time go?' But take a look around at the students, all of those who followed you, and look at what you have wrought," Lynch paused as she surveyed the packed room. "Because it is phenomenal."

The BSU was founded by some of the College's first African-American students in 1968 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and during the height of the civil rights movement. The organization was established to support, empower and inspire African-American students at the College by creating an environment promoting leadership, embracing identity and encouraging diversity. Fifty years later, the community came together to honor the BSU's heritage and the people who have played a role in shaping it.

The weekend festivities included a BSU 50th anniversary documentary, created by Kona Khasu '92, which premiered to a full house. Students and alumni also participated in a Griot, an event featuring spoken word and musical performances that lasted well into the night, a BBQ tailgate and football game against Fordham University, and a candid fishbowl conversation on "Unity and Fortitude" discussing the influence of the BSU.

A particularly well-attended panel highlighted the power and reach of the BSU alumni network. Of the five panel members, three generations of students (from the class of 1975, 2003 and 2020, respectively) served as mentors to one another.

Nakyah Lucas '20, co-president of the BSU, was moved by the weekend, but not in ways she expected.

"It didn't mean much to me that the alumni I met throughout the weekend were powerful and successful. But it did mean the world to me that they viewed all of us as family and wanted to help us in any way possible. It was nice to see that the BSU helped them in the same way it is helping me."

Earlier in the weekend, the College bestowed an honorary degree on Theodore V. Wells '72, a co-founder and former president of the BSU, for his legal career, service to the College, and work championing civil rights, racial and social justice, and educational equality.

As Lynch pointed out in her keynote, "The organization that we honor tonight was created by young men committed to work on the issues of the day. And they changed this school with their presence."

"The BSU is a strong community; I can feel it here tonight with those of you I've met just this one evening. Your voices and your presence come together to uplift your community, and your community provides support and inspiration for the difficult work ahead. But you are also twice-blessed, because you sit within an academic community that's a source of ideas and viewpoints as well as committed to the ideas of service and justice."

Look for a story on the legacy and impact of the Black Student Union in the upcoming Winter 2019 issue of Holy Cross Magazine.

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