June 27, 2018 – Georgetown’s Black Student Alliance (BSA) has addressed and amplified since 1968 the African American experience on campus, and that legacy continues as the organization marks its 50th anniversary.
“I truly couldn’t imagine my Georgetown experience without BSA,” says Lauren Smith (C’18), a recent graduate who served as BSA president 2017-2018.
Smith, a Conyers, Georgia native who majored in government and sociology, says her college career marked a formidable time of identity affirmation, and BSA provided her a safe space for authenticity and community.
“I hope that underclassmen can benefit from [BSA] as a starting point to finding their footing here,” she says. “No matter what other spaces make them feel uncomfortable, they can always know that within BSA …, they have the freedom and power to be themselves.”
Smith will work in youth development this fall in Swaziland through the Peace Corps.
The Alliance over the years has promoted an increase in programming for black students, faculty and staff through panel discussions, film viewings and professional development events for its members.
Tumult and Change in 1968
Only half a century ago, the country was struggling through social and political changes with the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. The nation was fighting a war in Vietnam, and two black Olympians stood on their podiums with raised fists during the “Star-Spangled Banner” in protest of racial discrimination in the United States.
Led by Bernard White (C’69) – the first African American to play for Georgetown’s basketball team, Georgetown’s small, yet influential, African American student community saw a time fraught with tumult and change as an opportunity to create the BSA.
“When I arrived, I was one of 30 African Americans in an undergraduate community of 6,000 students,” reveals Conan Louis (I’73), who served as the organization’s president 1971-1972. “Coming from a high school in …