In April of 1971, the Black Student Union (BSU) of the University of Florida submitted a list of demands to then president, Stephen O’Connell, calling for a number of programs and initiatives to improve the campus climate for Black students. The BSU leaders argued that many Black students were “excluded from meaningful social and cultural endeavors on this campus” and were in need of supportive resources. A Black Cultural Center was one of the student demands. When the University administration failed to act upon the student demands, a number of student protests and demonstrations were held, culminating in the occupation of the President’s office on April 15, 1971. On this date, dubbed “Black Thursday,” some 67 students would be arrested or suspended for occupying the UF President’s office. When amnesty requests for the suspended/arrested student protesters were denied, the BSU held a rally on April 27, 1971, after which several Black students and some sympathetic peers submitted University withdrawal slips in protest. Over the next few days, more than 100 Black students and their supporters withdrew from the University of Florida.
The student protests motivated the University administration to act and in the fall of 1971, the Institute of Black Culture (IBC) was established. The IBC would be officially dedicated on February 11, 1972.
In an effort to streamline services for all underserved students at the University of Florida, Multicultural & Diversity Affairs has expanded and has a new facility located on the 2nd floor of the J. Wayne Reitz Union. Part of the expansion included an additional space to serve Black/ African American students called the Black Enrichment Center (BEC). In Fall 2016, Black Affairs became the new department that oversees the Institute of Black Culture and the Black Enrichment Center! The purpose of Black Affairs is to create, sustain, promote and affirm Black scholarship, culture, history, and leadership. The two spaces (IBC and BEC) will allow Black Affairs to fulfill this mission through our expanded programs and services for the UF community.
For more than 40 years, Black Affairs (formerly the Institute of Black Culture) has been a home away from home for numerous students moving through the University of Florida. Black Affairs continues to function as a resource for all members of the university community by providing educational, social, and cultural programming, cultivating student leadership, and building on its founding legacy of social justice.