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Black Student Union at the University of Florida Records

Identifier: MS Coll 147

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.


  • Creation: 1974 - 2010



University Archives collections are available for research. Portions of the collections may be restricted due to the requirements of applicable state and federal laws, including but not limited to FERPA and HIPAA, and in accordance with best practices as defined by the Society of American Archivists.

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.


5 Linear Feet (9 boxes and 1 Oversize Folder)

Language of Materials



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.


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."


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

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.

A Guide to the Black Student Union at the University of Florida Records
Finding aid created by Sarah Coates
November 2019
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America