The Black Students for Freedom, renamed the Black Student Alliance in 1972, was birthed at the hands of three University students: George Taylor, John C. Thomas, and Roland Lynch, in September 1970 out of a need for political action to redress unjust policies and programs and as a structured liaison between Black students at the University of Virginia and the broader Charlottesville and University community. Its primary concern was to establish an organization that could realize and fulfill the needs of black students at the University, especially during a turbulent period of social and racial strife that had transformed the landscape of the University with the growing admission of Black students and women, alongside the rise of the respective Black Pride Movement. Throughout this peak of racial consciousness, the Black Student Alliance would use the organization as a vehicle for academic, social, and political change with a spirit of assertion and awareness of the surrounding issues at the University. Furthermore, BSA announced their cultural identity to the University community through endeavors such as Black Culture Week, various proposal and reports put forth to the University administration, outlining their grievances, and participation at University-wide events such as Orientation and Homecoming Weekend. It is through these gateways and gatherings that BSA has been able to persist over the decades, adapting and steadily evolving to meet the needs of each new generation of black students who stampede onto Grounds with their own unique issues, concerns, and initiatives.
With the vibrant energy of an Executive Board composed of several committees including: general body, community development, political action, finance, academic and career development, leadership development, and publicity, BSA has a vast supportive base to help fulfill their mission of awareness and engagement. Supported by an active black student body, BSA has been able to pledge allegiance to the foundational principles of the organization and remain as a reckoning force on the University Grounds. As they socially, politically, and academically engage students, faculty, and staff in their array of events and body meetings, the organization work tirelessly to fulfill their mission to create a welcoming environment for its students and serving as a united voice for the African-American student body population whom share, identify, or even sympathize with similar concerns and priorities addressed through service and action.
October 8, 1969 - Two University students, George Taylor and John Thomas, are appointed as recruiters who traveled on the behalf of the Admissions Office in an attempt to increase black enrollment at the University
September 1970 - “Black Students for Freedom” is formed by a coalition of Black students founded on the University of Virginia, Charlottesville campus
February 1971 - Rev. Joseph Washington organizes the first “Black Culture Week” to take place between February 9th to the 12th as a celebration of racial pride and recognition through various guest lectures, performances, and other events
October 1974 - BSA plans to ask the University Union to cancel a February-scheduled debate between controversial speaker, William Shockley, a winning physicist and promoter of black inferiority, and Roy Innes, National Director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) planned to be held during Black Cultural Week of February 1975
1975 - "Proposal For The Establishment of an Office of Minority Affairs At The University of Virginia" called for the Office of African American Affairs to be operational by the summer of 1976
October 1, 1987 - Hosts a rally for racial justice at City Hall to address rigorous affirmative action plans, better jobs and pay for UVA employees, total divestment, integrated housing, and increased recruitment of minority students
November 1987 - BSA begins distributing a monthly newsletter to all members in an effort to inform BSA members of the accomplishments and activities of the organization in hopes that it will heighten the organization’s awareness on Grounds
June 2007 - First annual Emerging Leaders Retreat is held in an effort to engage rising student leaders through workshops, lectures, designed to "help define and solidify their leadership skills … in a cultural context they can relate to and apply back, not just to black organizations, but to the University as a whole."
Non-Affiliation Statement: Although this organization has members who are University of Virginia students and may have University employees associated or engaged in its activities and affairs, the organization is not a part of or an agency of the University. It is a separate and independent organization which is responsible for and manages its own activities and affairs. The University does not direct, supervise or control the organization and is not responsible for the organization’s contracts, acts or omissions.