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Afro-American Society/Black Students' Union Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MA.01025

Scope and Contents

This collection includes only documents that were recovered from the Black Students' Union space in The Octagon in the Spring of 2016. These documents range from the founding constitutions of both the Afro-American Society and the Black Students' Union to clippings and ephemera produced by allied student groups such as La Causa and the Asian Students Association.

Incoming and outgoing correspondence has been kept together and organized chronologically; newsletters and flyers for events are included, but these holdings are far from complete. The BSU Correspondence file for the 1980s includes details of the 1988 renovation of the Octagon.

Series 3 is a catch-all for material not produced by the Afro-American Society or the Black Students' Union, but directly related to the mission and activities of these groups. Because these materials were part of the group transferred from the Octagon, they will be retained with this collection rather than disbursed. Documents in this series include newsletters, flyers, and correspondence of other student groups as well as Amherst College programs such as Black Alumni Weekend and the Minority Mentoring Program.

The file "Rodney King Verdict Protest, May 1992" includes a list of student demands submitted to President Pouncey and the President's formal statement in response to the protests.

The two issues of "Black Woman's Newsletter" from 1991 appear to be the earliest Amherst College student publication specifically for women of color. These two issues are the only copies held by the Archives.

Series 4 includes all video and audio recordings transferred from the Octagon; it also includes a small group of unidentified photographs. The video reels were digitized in fall 2016 and are available for viewing in the Archives. As of Spring 2017, none of the audio recordings have been digitized.

Dates

  • 1969-2016

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

In general, there is no restriction on access to the collection for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Extent

4 Linear feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

This collection includes documents that were recovered from the Black Students' Union space in The Octagon in the Spring of 2016. These documents range from the founding constitutions of both the Afro-American Society and the Black Students' Union to clippings and ephemera produced by allied student groups such as La Causa and the Asian Students Association.

Custodial History

One of the original functions of the Black Student Center in The Octagon, was to serve as a resource center for black cultural materials, including a library supported by The Posner Fund. For most of the life of the Afro-American Society/Black Students' Union, the group did not deposit any materials in the Archives. Recognizing the lack of security for important documents in the history of students of color at Amherst College, this collection was transferred from The Octagon to the Archives in May 2016.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In the Spring 2016 semester, four students designed a Special Topics Course on the subject of "The Black Experience at Amherst College." In the course of their work, the students sorted through the papers in The Octagon and brought a significant group of materials to the Archives, including several video recordings of events in the 1970s. The students responsible for the creation of this collection are: Matt Randolph ’16 (BSU Historian 2015-16); Amira Lundy-Harris ’16; Ajanae Bennett ’16; and Darienne Madlala ’16 (co-founder of ACSU).

Related Materials

Additional documents related to the Afro-American Society are filed under that heading in the Clubs and Societies Collection. Clubs and Societies also includes documents from the African and Caribbean Students' Union (ACSU), the Bilalian Writers' Collective, and the Black Writers' Collective of Amherst College.

The Moratoria Collection includes extensive documentation of the four times the campus was shut down by student demonstrations in 1969-1970; these demonstrations directly led to the establishment of the Black Studies Department at Amherst College and are integral to the history of student activism around issues of race.
Status
Completed
Date
2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299