February 28, 2011
One of CWRU’s oldest recognized student cultural organizations, the African American Society was formed in 1968 as the Afro-American Society.
One of its earliest and most far-reaching actions was a series of demands presented to President Morse in December 1968. The group advocated for increased numbers of Black students, faculty, administrators; courses in African-American culture; greater university initiatives in the local Black community (e.g., Black History Week programs); an evening college prep program for Black students; recognizing the birthdays of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X as official university holidays; and acquiring additional library materials by and about Blacks.
The organization published a newsletter (copies from 1969-1974 are in the Archives) and sponsored lectures, films, and social events, including dances and cultural dinners. Beginning in 1969, the Afro-American Society co-sponsored Black Pre-Freshman Week activities such as tours, classes, performances, and dinners.
One of the group’s early leaders was Stephanie Tubbs, president in 1970/71. In spring 1971 the Afro-American Society proposed the university establish an Afro-American Studies House, so that “...academic and cultural pursuit of the ‘Black Experience’ may continue in discussions, seminars, workshops, etc. after the normal academic day is over...” It was to be “open for occupancy to all without regard to race, color, creed, religion or previous condition of ignorance or misunderstanding as long as all occupants of the dorm demonstrate interest in these specialized fields of interest and study.”  In 1972 the Afro-American Cultural Living Center was established at Sherman House.
For more than 40 years the African-American Society has helped CWRU become a more inclusive community.
[1. 4SI6 1:4 Michael W. Francis, Proposal for an Afro-American Studies House, 4/23/1971]
Posted by jmt3 at February 28, 2011 02:35 PM
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