Light & Verity

The Black Student Alliance turns 50

A weekend gathering to celebrate a milestone.

Vivian Dang

Vivian Dang

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In 2017, Yale had an Afro-American Cultural Center, an academic department for African American studies, and a black alumni group. None of them existed in 1967, when students founded the Black Student Alliance at Yale. This past October, over 350 students, alumni, and community members celebrated BSAY’s 50th anniversary and its work at Yale—including its major role in establishing both the Cultural Center and the African American studies department.

The events included an art history exhibit, a screening of the 1974 documentary Black at Yale: A Film Diary, and an evening gala with a keynote address by MSNBC political analyst Joy-Ann Reid (left). A panel of current BSAY members and alumni discussed what BSAY’s advocacy had accomplished, what the current moment looks like, and what they hope to work toward into the future. BSAY is “grounded in social justice and political activism,” says current president Nia Berrian ’19. “Being able to communicate with the founders about their original ideas for the group . . . allowed the whole community to orient ourselves toward resilience.”

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