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History/Background

In 1968, four days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stanford University cancelled classes and sponsored a university-wide convocation entitled "Colloquium and Plan for Action: Stanford's Response to White Racism". During comments from the provost, approximately 70 Black students from the Black Student Union stood up and walked on stage and took the microphone. Once on the microphone, they issued 10 demands to the university concerning its responsibility to its Black students and other minorities. As a result, in 1969 the Black Student Volunteer Center was established with a focus on community service and outreach programs to East Palo Alto, a predominately Black community near the university.

In 1972, the center changed its name to the Black Activities Center (BAC) and continued to serve as a hub of community service and political activity. During the early seventies, several Black Voluntary Student Organizations (BVSOs) were created to meet the needs of the ever-changing Black population. Many of these new organizations focused on pre-professional advising and interests, such as law, business, medicine and engineering. With this growth, the BAC professional staff broadened the center's scope to include student organizational development and leadership training. In 1979, the Black Activities Center was renamed the Black Community Services Center (BCSC).

Current Status

The BCSC engages students through individual advising and programs that foster an environment for intellectual exploration. Our Roundtable Series exposes students to various professors and their research and our faculty-facilitated book discussions bring together students from different disciplines to discuss issues that affect the Black community. We also work with students in programs specific to academic achievement.

The Partners for Academic Excellence (PAE) program, which is currently housed in Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR), was created in the Black community. This program offers freshmen a small group study opportunity, mentorship by graduate students and upperclassmen, as well as intimate interaction with Black faculty and alumni. The model of this program has expanded to other communities and departments and currently, the BCSC and UAR are engaged in a critical reassessment of the focus and implementation of the program. Over the past few years, this has grown to become the Ernest Houston Johnson Scholars Program. 

The BCSC at Stanford

The BCSC supports over 35 BVSOs which include pre-professional organizations, academic support groups, political groups, graduate student organizations, performance groups, cultural organizations, international organizations and historically Black Greek letter organizations and publications. By participating in these groups, students are able to hone their leadership, critical thinking and communication skills. We provide advising, training and guidance that helps students realize their ideas and supports their creativity and growth as leaders. Many of our students have applied the lessons of leadership they have learned by participating in BVSOs and working in our center to positions of leadership in other areas of the university.

The connection to the Black community at Stanford does not end at graduation. The BCSC serves as a vital link between Black alumni and the university through collaborative programming with Black Alumni Chapters across the country, the National Black Alumni Association and the Stanford Alumni Association. Our recent fundraising success has increased communication and expectation of alumni.

Throughout our existence, the BCSC has been instrumental in creating a community that fosters intellectual, personal and cultural growth. Our sustained commitment to promoting academic excellence and to the empowerment of the African Diaspora has created a legacy of scholars, leaders and agents of social change that have not only impacted Stanford, but the nation, and the world.

Staffing

The BCSC was staffed entirely by graduate and undergraduate students until the mid-seventies. Students began to challenge the university for more support in the form of professional staff. According to former administrators, the professionalization of the center was viewed as a symbol of commitment from the university and a means of ensuring the continued existence of the BCSC. Currently, the BCSC has two full-time professional staff members and 21 undergraduate student program coordinators.

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