Building blocks of the BSA

In 1969, the University of Virginia was a very different place. Discrimination was part of the fabric of the University and racial tensions were high. But, that year, three University students joined together to establish Black Students for Freedom, the precursor to the Black Student Alliance.

Earlier this month, the Black Student Alliance welcomed Roland Lynch, George Taylor and Honorable John C. Thomas back to the University.

The three founders spoke to University students about the establishment of Black Students for Freedom in 1969 in the midst of racial hatred and the Black Pride Movement.

"The purpose for establishing Black Students for Freedom was to form a black identity on campus that would have to be recognized by the University," Taylor said.

Black Students for Freedom was formed in response to both the racial climate at the University and national and international events.

"We knew that we had to change the world," Thomas said.

Taylor identified education as an additional goal of the Black Students for Freedom organization.

"We thought it was our mission to teach the black community about black history," he said.

Black Students for Freedom also focused on supporting black students, faculty members and Charlottesville residents. Black Students for Freedom was renamed the Black Student Alliance in 1972, and the organization began focusing more on the creation of a connected black community on Grounds and in Charlottesville, as well as political action against injustice. The Office of African-American Affairs was created by the BSA in 1976. Today, the BSA continues to support black students and faculty.

The founders reflected on the changes that have taken place since their time at the University.

Back then, being black was "... a part of our culture; our music included 'Say it loud

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