SAVING 'THE BLACK HOUSE'
One long-standing problem has been with the haphazard administrative handling of The Bruce D, Nesbit African-American Cultural Center (BNAACC) which is facing many obstacles. The center, a place so dear to the Black student population, has been undergoing many changes for years now. With the stress of searching for a new director and the ongoing conversation of when and where the center will be rebuilt adds to the frustration of not only students, but faculty as well.
Student leaders from many organizations such as Black Students for Revolution have met up to converse about the things they want to see changed on the University of Illinois Campus, especially the progression of BNAACC. Black Students for Revolution (BSFR) is an organization geared towards “contribut[ing] to the creation of a society free of all forms of exploitation and oppression,” (according to their Facebook page) meaning they are seeking change on campus. BSFR wants to challenge the norms set in place in hopes of creating opportunity and equality for the oppressed and the less thought of The organization first held a private event for student leaders. The attendees were apart of organizations such as The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), My Sisters Keeper (MSK), Central Black Student Union (CBSU), black sororities and fraternities, amongst others. The point of the conversation was to acknowledge the current state of the center, as well as where individuals would like to see it grow into due to the fact they want to be the ones to help make the necessary changes.
There were many emotions behind the student union because people like senior Isabella Kadiri, have been waiting to move forward with the state of BNAACC since freshman year. Now, with the possibility of it not happening before graduation, she’s now dealing with the reality of not seeing the center come into what it should have been years ago, as she mentioned in the audio package. The center has been in a temporary location that is off campus, which places a hindrance of the accessibility and student engagement. Being a vital resource and essentially considered a “home away from home”, black students feel cheated of a resource created just for them. Because it means so much, these students are demanding changes and are protesting the issue at hand.
To dive deeper into the issues of black students on campus, my team and I attended another event, the Freedom Forum put on by the African American Studies Scholars Cultural Committee, or AASSCC. The purpose of the event is to discuss the state of race and other pressing issues on the Champaign-Urbana campus community. The Freedom Forum allowed students and faculty including our chancellor to converse about topics such as racial profiling, the lack of black students on campus and inequality in the classrooms. Some topics have even been added to the list of demands black students on campus are requesting. Listen to the conversation here:
- Anaja Smith and Matthew Eaglin Daniels