Yesterday was the start of Black History Month. As we continue with our recognition, we want to once more acknowledge the beginnings of this homage to the struggle and achievements of Black people. Briefly we mentioned KSU’s Black United Students (BUS) as having been recorded as one of the first major institutions to implement a month-long celebration. But you may be asking, who and what is BUS?
Black United Students is known for being one of Kent State University’s oldest student organizations originating in May 1968. Black students embraced the height of the Black Power Movement and were searching for places that encouraged truth in their cultural heritage and activities that celebrated their Black is Beautiful identity. BUS led protests, sit-ins, and a mass walkout that put Kent State University on notice that Black students on campus were needed and valued. This activism resulted in the creation of the Institute for African American Affairs in 1969, the Center of Pan-African Culture (CPAC) in 1970 and the Department of Pan-African Studies in 1976. Today, the Department of Pan-African Studies is located in Oscar Ritchie Hall (named after KSU’s first African American faculty member) or more affectionately called “the House that BUS built.”
Black United Students activism did not only impact KSU, its outreach extended to the Ravenna community. Specifically, BUS along with Black Greeks, and KSU faculty began raising money and giving back to the communities of McElrath and Skeels. They were active in the development of the King Kennedy Community Center. Long before programs, such as Americorp and America Reads, BUS established after school programming and food services that brought Ravenna students onto the KSU campus for tutoring.