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A Guide to the Black Student Union at the University of Florida Records

Finding aid created by Sarah Coates

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections

November 2019

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Black Student Union. (University of Florida).
Title: Black Student Union at the University of Florida Records
Dates: 1974-2010
Abstract: Contains the correspondence, meeting agendas and minutes, history of, and budget and financial information of the Black Student Union at the University of Florida. Also includes information on events and programming put on by the Black Student Union.
Extent: 5 Linear Feet. 9 boxes and 1 Oversize Folder.
Identification: MS Coll 147
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

The Black Student Union (BSU) was organized at the University of Florida in 1968 and was officially registered with UF's Student Government in 1969. The BSU was founded as a support system and social organization, and quickly became a voice for issues that affected Black students on campus.

Three years after it was founded, in April, 1971, BSU submitted a list of demands to UF President Stephen C. O'Connell, requesting that a Black Cultural Center be established at UF, that 500 Black students be recruited and admitted to the university, to establish a department of Minority Affairs, to have a Black administrator in the Office of Academic Affairs to coordinate the recruitment of Black faculty, to hire a Black person at the assistant manager level in the personnel division, to hire more Black faculty and staff to better reflect the ratio of black students on UF's campus, and the fair and equal treatment of Black employees of UF.

These demands were not acted upon, and so student protests and demonstrations were held across campus. The culmination of these protests took place on April 15, 1971, when a large number of students occupied President O'Connell's office. This date would become known as "Black Thursday." Over 60 students were arrested or suspended for occupying the President's office. When amnesty requests for those who were suspended or arrested were denied, the BSU held a rally on April 27, 1971, after several Black students and sympathetic peers withdrew from the University of Florida. Within the next few days, over 100 Black students and their supporters withdrew from the university.

These protests motivated the university administration to act. In the Fall of 1971, the Institute of Black Culture was established and was formally dedicated on February 11, 1972.

Scope and Content

The collection contains records pertaining to the Black Student Union (BSU) at the University of Florida. Much of the content in the collection centers on events and programs put on by the BSU, including the Florida Invitational Step Show and Black History Month. Correspondence and memorandum relating to the business activities of the BSU is included, along with budgetary and financial information relating to BSU and its activities. Minutes and agendas for BSU general and executive board meetings are present. The General Files series contains information related to BSU and its interests, including copies of magazine articles, brochures, and other related materials. Lists of significant events and Black students/faculty/staff firsts are included in the Miscellaneous Records series. Also included in that series are news clippings, copies and drafts of the BSU Constitution, and histories of the BSU and the Black student experience at the University of Florida.

Also included are some photographs of the Institute of Black Culture, Umoja ceremonies, and student gatherings.

This collection would be of interest to those studying the experience of Black students at the University of Florida.


Arranged into six series: "Series 1: Budget and Financial Information, 1983-2005"; "Series 2: Correspondence and Memos, 1980-2005"; "Series 3: Events and Programs, 1979-2010"; "Series 4: General Files, 1980-2008"; "Series 5: Meeting Agendas and Minutes, 1981-2005"; and "Series 6: Miscellaneous Records, 1974-2006."

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Black Student Union at the University of Florida Records, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from Black Student Union, March 2014. Many of the files appear to have been from Dr. Betty Stewart-Dowdell, who was the Black Student Union's Faculty Advisor.

Contents List

Series 1: Budget and Financial Information. 1983-2005

Box Folder
11 Black Student Union debt repayment to Student Government. 1989
12 Budget and financial information. 1983-1984
13 Budget and financial information. 1988-1990
14 Budget and financial information. 1994-1996
15 Budget and financial information. 1997-1998
16 Budget and financial information. 1998-1999
17 Budget and financial information. 2000-2001
18 Budget and financial information. 2005

Series 2: Correspondence and Memos. 1980-2005

Box Folder
19 Correspondence and Memos. 1980-1982
110 Correspondence and Memos. 1982-1983
111 Correspondence and Memos. 1984
112 Correspondence and Memos. 1985-1986
113 Correspondence and Memos. 1988-1989
114 Correspondence and Memos. 1989-1996
115 Correspondence and Memos. 1994-1996
116 Correspondence and Memos. 1997-1998
117 Correspondence and Memos. 1998-1999
118 Correspondence and Memos. 2000
119 Correspondence and Memos. 2000-2001
120 Correspondence and Memos. 2003-2004
121 Correspondence and Memos. 2005

Series 3: Events and Programs. 1979-2010

Box Folder
122 40th anniversary of desegregation at the University of Florida [includes speech titled "A History of the Black Presence at the University of Florida"]. 1998
21 Black Americans Against the Odds Conference and Events. 1982-1989
22 Black Female Extravaganza. 1992-2001
23 Black History Month Brain Bowl. undated
24 Black History Month Fashion Show. 1991-1995
25 Black History Month Plays. 1990-1993
26 Black History Month. 1979, 1981
27 Black History Month. 1983
28 Black History Month. 1984
29 Black History Month. 1985
210 Black History Month. 1985-1986
211 Black History Month. 1987-1989
212 Black History Month . 1989-1995
213 Black History Month. 1995-1997
214 Black History Month [folder 1 of 2]. 1999-2002
215 Black History Month [folder 2 of 2]. 1999-2002
216 Black History Month. 2003-2004
31 Ebony Appreciation Banquet. 1985-1986
32 Events and Programs. 1980-1982
33 Events and Programs. 1983
34 Events and Programs. 1984
35 Events and Programs. 1985-1986
36 Events and Programs. 1988-1989
37 Events and Programs. 1990-1995
38 Events and Programs. 1994-1995
39 Events and Programs. 1995-1997
310 Events and Programs. 1998-1999
311 Events and Programs. 2000-2002
312 Events and Programs. 2003
41 Events and Programs. 2003-2004
42 Events and Programs. 2004-2005
43 Events and Programs. 2006-2007, 2010
44 Florida Invitational Step Show. 1990-1997
45 Florida Invitational Step Show. 1997-1998
46 Florida Invitational Step Show. 1998-2000
47 Florida Invitational Step Show. 2000-2002
48 Florida Invitational Step Show. 2003
49 Florida Invitational Step Show. 2004
410 Florida Invitational Step Show. 2005
51 High School Scholars Program for Black Students [folder 1 of 3]. 1980-1997
52 High School Scholars Program for Black Students [folder 2 of 3]. 1980-1997
53 High School Scholars Program for Black Students [folder 3 of 3]. 1980-1997
54 Homecoming. 1997-2001
55 Institute of Black Culture 25th Anniversary/Third Decade. 1992-1996
56 Institute of Black Culture 25th Anniversary. 1997
57 Mr. and Miss BSU Pageant [folder 1 of 2]. 1980-2003
58 Mr. and Miss BSU Pageant [folder 2 of 2]. 1980-2003
61 National Day of Action in Defense of Affirmative Action files. 1997-1998
62 Rod Rogers Dance Company Performance files. 1982-1983
63 Society of Ethnic and Special Studies, University of Florida Chapter Conference. 1980-1981
64 Umoja Ceremony. 1998
65 Umoja Ceremony. 1994-2003
66 Umoja Ceremony. 2003-2009
67 Welcome Week. 1991, 2000-2002
UAOS11 Poster: Florida Invitational Step Show (1996); Black History Month events (2003). 1996, 2003

Series 4: General Files. 1980-2008

Box Folder
68 General Files. 1980-1982
69 General Files. 1983
610 General Files. 1984
611 General Files. 1985-1986
612 General Files. 1988-1989
613 General Files. 1989-1996
614 General Files. 1990-1995
71 General Files. 1995-1997
72 General Files. 1997-1998
73 General Files. 1998-1999
74 General Files. 2000
75 General Files. 2000-2001
76 General Files [folder 1 of 2]. 2000-2005
77 General Files [folder 2 of 2]. 2000-2005
78 General Files. 2001-2002
79 General Files. 2002-2003
710 General Files. 2003
711 General Files. 2003-2004
712 General Files. 2004-2005
713 General Files. 2007-2008

Series 5: Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 1981-2005

Box Folder
81 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 1981
82 Meeting Agendas, Minutes, and Officer Lists. 1982-1983
83 Meeting Agendas, Minutes, and Members Lists. 1985-1986
84 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 1989
85 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 1989-1996
86 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 1996-1998
87 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 1998-1999
88 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 2000-2001
89 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 2001-2002
810 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 2002-2003
811 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 2003-2004
812 Meeting Agendas and Minutes. 2004-2005

Series 6: Miscellaneous Records. 1974-2006

Box Folder
813 Black Student Assembly. 1984-2002
814 Black Student Union and Black Students at University of Florida--HIstory. undated
815 Black Student Union Calendars. 1976-2006
816 Black Student Union Elections. 1996-1998
817 A Brief History of the Black Student Union. 1985-1986
818 Black Student Union newsletters [titles vary]. 1985-2005
819 Constitution of the Black Student Union. undated, 1998
820 Former Black Student Union Presidents and Miss BSU Winners. 1974-2008
91 Gospel Choir programs, correspondence, minutes. 1979-1989
92 List of Association of Black Faculty and Staff Chairs, 1972-2003. Formerly known as the Caucus of Black Faculty and Staff. 2003
93 List of signicant/first Black students/faculty/staff/events at University of Florida, 1945-1993. undated
94 Minority Mentor Program Mentor Information Handbook. undated
95 News clippings. 1983
96 News clippings. 1984
97 News clippings. 1985-1986
98 News clippings. 1988-1989
99 News clippings. 2005
910 12 photographs. Subjects include photographs of the Institute of Black Culture, Umoja ceremony, Hispanic Heritage Month, Homecoming float, and student gatherings.. undated

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

African American college students -- Social conditions.
African American college students.
African Americans.
Black Student Union. (University of Florida).
College students -- Conduct of life.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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