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Afro-American Society/Black Students' Union Collection, 1969-present
1 Linear foot
Collection number: MA.01025

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.
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections

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.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use

History of the Collection

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).

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.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

Phone: (413) 542-2299
Fax: (413) 542-2692

Email Reference Form: http://www.amherst.edu/library/archives/askus
URL: http://www.amherst.edu/library/archives
Language
English
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.

Contents List
Afro-American Society
1968-1980


Biographical note:

The Afro-American Society was established in 1968. Among the earliest goals of the group was the establishment of a Black Studies Department and better recognition from the college of the unique challenges faced by students of color at Amherst College. Over the course of the 1970s, the Afro-American Society was very active and successful, establishing the Black Cultural Center in The Octagon (later the Gerald Penny Center) and holding a day of celebration in honor of Professor Sonia Sanchez. In 1980, the group changed its name to the Black Students' Union.

Scope and content:

This series includes the founding constitution for the Afro-American Society, copies of the Society's newsletters, and the 1972 printed booklet "Amherst: A Black Perspective." The largest file in this series is the Correspondence for 1969-1980; this file includes all incoming and outgoing correspondence, along with assorted related documents.

Afro-American Society. Constitution
1968-1972

Box 1: folder 1
Afro-American Society. Correspondence
1969-1980

Box 1: folder 2
Afro-American Society. Newsletters
1975-1976

Box 1: folder 3
Sonia Sanchez Day: letter to faculty.
March 24, 1975

Box 1: folder 4
"Amherst: A Black Perspective"
1972

Box 1: folder 5
General

Credits on back of pamphlet: "Amherst: A Black Perspective was written by members of the Amherst College Afro-American Society Admission Committee: Roger E. Coy '75, Thomas J. Wattley '75, and Wayne M. Wormley '72. Photography was by James U. Cryan, Amherst College Photographer, and others. Special thanks is extended to the Office of Admission, and to Dean Richard M. O'Daniel and Professor Asa J. Davis."

Other writing
1977

Box 1: folder 6
General

"Affirmative Action. Debate: The Defiance of a Mild Solution." by Walter Harris, November 23, 1977.

Black Students' Union
1980-present


Biographical note:

From the BSU Constitution Preamble: "The Black Students' Union at Amherst College evolved from the Afro-American Society as the organization responsible for the articulation and manifestation of the African/ Caribbean/ American experience on campus. As such, the B.S.U. recognizes its primary function as a support system for those students of African/ Caribbean descent. This support comes in the form of many programs exploring our culture, manifesting our culture, and preserving our culture in the context of our immediate academic environment. In this context, it is therefore imperative that we work closely with the Department of Black Studies and incorporate our concerns in a mutually supportive manner."

Scope and content:

The Black Student Union Series includes all documents produced and received by the BSU after the change of name in 1980. Documents include the BSU Constitution and founding documents, meeting minutes, newsletters, event flyers, and extensive correspondence. Correspondence is broken into two files -- 1980s and 1990s -- the largest portion being the 1980s.

Black Students' Union. Constitution and Governance
1980-1982

Box 1: folder 7
Black Students' Union Minutes
1982

Box 1: folder 8
Black Students' Union Correspondence
1980-1989

Box 1: folder 9
Black Students' Union Correspondence
1990-1999

Box 1: folder 10
Black Students' Union Newsletters
1985-1995

Box 1: folder 11
Black Students' Union Events
1982-2016

Box 1: folder 12
Black Students' Union Group Photograph outside Octagon, n.d.


Box 1: folder 13
Black Students' Union Octagon Mural Information


Box 1: folder 14
General

History and biographical information gathered by Ajanae Bennett ’16 as her project for the Special Topics Course on the Black Experience at Amherst College, Spring 2016.

Amherst College Community and Allied Groups



This series contains materials that were not necessarily created by the BSU, but are directly related to its mission and activities. Documents in this series include information about other student groups such as Asian Students Association and La Causa; clippings from Amherst and Five College publications; college programs such as Black Alumni Weekend; and documentation of the 1992 student protests in the wake of the Rodney King verdict. All of these documents were among the BSU materials in the Octagon, so will be retained as part of this collection to document BSU engagement with other college and student groups. Files in this series are arranged alphabetically by title.

AC Voice article with extensive manuscript notes
2013

Box 1: folder 15
General

"Action: A Response to BSU" by Liya Rechtman (AC 2014) printout with extensive manuscript notes by an unknown individual.

The Amherst Student. Clippings
1977-2016

Box 1: folder 16
Asian Students Association
1987

Box 1: folder 17
Black Alumni Weekend
1980-1994

Box 1: folder 18
Black Studies Department
1986-1988

Box 1: folder 19
Black Woman's Newsletter
1991

Box 1: folder 20
La Causa
2005-2006

Box 1: folder 21
William Hastie (AC 1925) Memorial and Clippings
1982

Box 1: folder 22
Minority Mentoring Program brochure
1992

Box 1: folder 23
Minority Students at Amherst brochure
1988

Box 1: folder 23b
Rodney King Verdict Protest
May 1992

Box 1: folder 24
Spectrum III
1994

Box 1: folder 25
General

"Spectrum III consists primarily of an executive board which serves to facilitate between the theater and dance department and the communities of color on campus while also serving the needs of the student of color in terms of performance, workshop, and creation of pieces."

Straight Ahead
1972-1982

Box 1: folder 26
General

"The Straight Ahead Committee of Amherst College was formed in 1972 by a small group of students who were concerned about the lack of activities/programming at the college relevant to what was happening in the "real" world."

Third World Watch. Five College Student Newspaper
1975

Box 1: folder 27
"The Dunbar Men of Amherst" by Matt Randolph (AC 2016)
February 21, 2016

Box 1: folder 28
General

Matt Randolph was the BSU Historian for the 2015-16 academic year. He organized a Special Topics course on the subject of "The Black Experience at Amherst College" in Spring 2016.

"Why an Amherst Building Carries a former slave's name" by Robert H. Romer (AC 1952).
January 17, 2011

Box 1: folder 29
General

Article published in the Hampshire Gazette written by retired Amherst professor Robert Romer (AC 1952). Romer has spent much of his retirement doing research into the African-American community in and around Amherst, MA. He is the author of the book Slavery in the Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts.

Search Terms
Romer, Robert H. ((AC 1952))

Audio, Video, and Photographs



This series includes all of the photographs, audio recordings, and video recordings delivered to the Archives from The Octagon in 2016. The open-reel video tapes were digitized in Fall 2016 and are available for viewing in the Archives. A more detailed inventory of the contents of these videos is forthcoming. The original video tapes form their own sub-series, but are not available for use; only the digital versions of these videos can be used. One unlabeled video reel was found to be blank and has been removed from the collection.

Audio recordings and photographs form separate sub-series. As of Spring 2017 none of these audio recordings have been digitized. The photographs have not been physically sorted and are housed in the containers in which they arrived in the Archives.

Video Recordings
1974-1978, n.d.


Black Alumnus Convocation
8 February 1974
1 Reels
Box 2
Physical characteristics:

"spine label: ""Blk Alumnus Convocation 2/8/74"" outside sticker: ""Blk Alumnus Convocation 2/8/74"" inside sticker: Convocation - Black Alumnus 2/8/74" V-32 case

Black Alumnus Weekend
8-9 February 1974
1 Reels
Box 2
Dedication Ceremony
12 October 1974
1 Reels
Box 2
Physical characteristics:

"spine card: ""Dedication Ceremony 10/12/74"" reel label: ""Dedication Ceremony of the Gerald Penny Black Cultural Center - October 12, 1974"" outside label: ""Dedication Ceremony"" "

John Henrik Clarke Part I
15 November 1974
1 Reels
Box 2
Biographical note:

Dr. John Henrik Clarke (born John Henry Clark, January 1, 1915 – July 12, 1998), was a Pan-Africanist writer, historian, professor, and a pioneer in the creation of Africana studies and professional institutions in academia starting in the late 1960s.

Physical characteristics:

"spine card: ""John Clark Part I"" outside label: ""John Henrick Clarke, 11/15/74, I"" reel label: John H Clark Part I"

Search Terms
Clarke, John Henrik, 1915-1998

John Henrik Clarke Part II
15 November 1974
1 Reels
Box 2
Physical characteristics:

"spine label: ""John H. Clarke 11/15/74 II"" inside sticker (verso of case front): ""Bill Cole and Company strikethrough]""; ""John Henrick Clarke11/15/74 - Fayerweather (?), filmed by A. Reliford (?), D. Turner (?)"

Search Terms
Clarke, John Henrik, 1915-1998

Gwendolyn Brooks
6 December 1974
1 Reels
Box 2
Biographical note:

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000) was an American poet, author, and teacher. Her work often dealt with the personal celebrations and struggles of ordinary people in her community. She won many awards for her work and influence, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry on May 1, 1950, for Annie Allen[1] making her the first African American to receive that award.

Physical characteristics:

spine card: "Gwen Brooks 12/6/74 #20"

Presentations to Sonia Sanchez: Sonia Sanchez Day
19 April 1975
1 Reels
Box 2
Physical characteristics:

"spine card: ""Presentations to Sonia Sanchez, Sonia Sanchez Day 4/19/75"" reel label (left side): ""Sonia Sanchez Day"" reel label (right side): ""Concert Sound Revolution Part II""; ""Part I Presentation"" outside card (back of case): "Billy Gault and Joe Lee Sound Revolution I"

Search Terms
Sanchez, Sonia, 1934-

Sanchez Presentation Part II
19 April 1975
1 Reels
Box 2
Physical characteristics:

"spine card: ""Sanchez Presentation Part II"" reel label (left side): ""Sonia Sanchez Day"" reel label (right side): ""Presentation Part II 4/19/75"""

Search Terms
Sanchez, Sonia, 1934-

Sanchez Day Opening Part I
19 April 1975
1 Reels
Box 2
Physical characteristics:

"spine card: ""Sanchez Day Opening Part I"" outside card:""Sound Revolution - Part II [strikethrough]""; ""Sanchez Day Opening - Part I""; ""also on VHS video tape"" reel label: ""Reel I"""

Sanchez Day Opening Part II
19 April 1975
1 Reels
Box 2
Physical characteristics:

"spine card: ""Sanchez Day Opening Part II"" outside card (on back of case): ""Introduction - Sanchez Day - Part II (4/19/75)""; ""Sound Revolution - Tape [strikethrough] Part I (4/19/75)"

Harold Cruse Part II
24 September 1975
1 Reels
Box 2
Biographical note:

Harold Wright Cruse (1916 - 2005) was an American academic who was an outspoken social critic and teacher of African American studies at the University of Michigan until the mid-1980s. The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967) is his best-known book.

Physical characteristics:

"spine card: ""Harold Cruse Part II"" reel label: ""Harold Cruse, Smith College, Sept 24 1975 (?), Part II"""

Search Terms
Cruse, Harold

"Every Father's Child" (Part I)
5 April 1978
1 Reels
Box 2
General

Recording did not include any audio. Video only.

Physical characteristics:

"outside card: ""Every Father's Child (Part I) 4-5-78""; ""written and directed by Thomas W. Jones reel label: Pt. I"

New England Conference #2
n.d.
1 Reels
Box 2
Physical characteristics:

"spine label: #2 New England Conference outside label: ""#2 New England Conference, Sonia - Blk Women"" inside sticker: ""No. 2""; ""Last Part Sonia & On Black Awareness, Pn Black Women""; ""1. On Black Women, 2. On Black Awareness, 3. 1st Part Sonia Sanchez"

New England Conference #3
n.d.
1 Reels
Box 2
Physical characteristics:

"spine label: ""#3 Blk New England Conference"" outside label: ""#3 New England Conference, Sonia - Archie - Communication Workshop"" inside sticker: ""No. 3""; ""1. last part of Sonia, 2. Archie Shepp, 3. Communications Workshop"""

New England Conference #4
n.d.
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

"spine label: ""#4 New England Conference"" outside label: ""#4 New England Conference, Dinner, Interviews, Major Hatcher Part I"" inside sticker: ""No. 4""; ""Dinner and Mayor Hatcher, 1. Interviews, 2. Baraka's (?) assisstant, 3. Resolutions, Layman - Blk. Artists, Zaid - Communications, John Bracey - Coalitons, Williams BSU rep - Transportation, 4. Interview with Pres. Ward, Am. College, 5. Pres. Ward 6. Asa J. Davis, 7. Mayor Hatcher I "

New England Conference #5
n.d.
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

"spine label: ""#5 New England Conference"" outside label: ""#5 New England Conference, Major Hatchep [sic] Part II"" inside sticker: ""No. 5""; ""Major Hatcher speech at Johnson Chapel""; ""1. Main Part of Mayor Hatcher's Speech II"

New England Conference #6
n.d.
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

"spine label: ""#6 New England Conference"" outside label: ""#6 Blk New England Conference, Major Hatcher Part III"" inside sticker: ""No. 6""; ""Last of Hatcher's Speech. At Johnson Chapel""; ""1. Mayor Hatcher III 1st 100 ft."""

Uhuru Sasa Dub
n.d.
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

"outside card: ""Uhuru Sasa Dub""; ""Recorded on Sony AV 3600"" reel label: ""Uhuru Sasa Dub""; ""Recorded on Sony AV 3600"" sticker (on back of case): ""Frank Motley, 703 Gourley Pike #197, Bloomington, Indiana 47401"""

Sound Recordings
1970-1972, n.d.


5/8 Moratorium: Investments in South Africa; Latino
8 May 1970
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

Memorex reel in plastic box; 3 3/4 tape speed. Reel #2; 4 track

Moratorium: Latino Students and Red Room Discussion
8 May 1970
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

Memorex audio tape in plastic container. 3 3/4 tape speed. Reel #3

End of Jimmy Garrett/Fuller Speech; Private Rap session at Asa's with Garrett & Fuller; Howard Fuller speech
2 March 1972
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

Audio Devices Inc audiotape in cardboard box. Title information taken from back of box.

Morning Lecture of Moratorium; Evening Workshop: Black/White Interaction
9 May 1972
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

Maestro recording tape in cardboard box; plastic braille labels on reel and on box. Title information taken from back of box.

The Black Experience. Basil Mathews (Moratorium Workshop); Evening Workshop: Black/White Interaction (cont.)
9 May 1972
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

Maestro recording tape in cardboard box. Reel inside is Scotch brand. Plastic braille labels on outside of box.

"Herbert the Third" and "Wine in the Wilderness" Show Tape.
n.d.
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

Scotch pro-pack 206 reel in cardboard box; sheet of yellow paper with notes enclosed with reel. Title information taken from leader at head of reel.

Unidentified audio reel
n.d.
1 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

Scotch brand audio tape in black cardboard box. Partial label on box reads "..ew 45's Summer Aug 1st"

"White Against Black" Argus Communications, Chicago.
n.d.
4 Reels
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

Cardboard box with Argus Communications and title "White Against Black" on lid contains three reels with paper labels; "Scotch magnetic tape" box contains fourth reel of "White Against Black"

November Guest
n.d.
1 Cassettes
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

BASF Ferro Extra I audio cassette with "November Guest" written on paper label for side A.

Unsorted Photographs
n.d.


Photographs by Frank Ward Featuring Black Students of Amherst
n.d.
1 Linear feet
Box 3
Biographical note:

Frank Ward worked as the official Amherst College Photographer until 2005.

Physical characteristics:

Kodak Tri-X pan professional film cardboard box.

Unidentified snapshots
n.d.
1 Files
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

White paper envelope "Snapshot Greetings"

Unidentified negatives
n.d.
1 Files
Box 3
Physical characteristics:

Color cardboard box "Ritz Camera" contains eight strips of negatives in sleeves.


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