By Joy Moton | Staff Writer
Exactly 50 years ago, Barbara Walker and Robert Lewis Gilbert became the first African American students to graduate from Baylor University. Students gathered in Barfield Monday evening to celebrate the 50-year anniversary as well as the birth of an organization that will make history for Baylor.
Through the department of multicultural affairs, Baylor will have its own black student union. Black student unions at other college campuses have served to unify, maintain and sustain communities of color in the midst of racial discrimination, economic exploitation and access to resources. The black student union at Baylor will serve to unify and support the black student organizations on Baylor’s campus according to Allyn Madison, the black student union’s new president.
Students had the idea for a black student union for a while, and Dr. Elizabeth Palacios, dean for student development, thought it would be a great way to unify the community so their voices could be heard at the administrative level.
In recent years, students have worked with Palacios to form coalitions such as the Association of Black Students and the Coalition of Black Ambassadors in place of black student government. Now the black student union will unify all of Baylor’s black organizations, and Palacios said she is excited to see the changes students bring.
“My hope is that all these different organizations will come together in a common role of bettering Baylor, bettering what the students’ needs are, articulating ideas, dreams, aspirations and needs,” Palacios said. “So it’s not just a list of things to do, it is truly a communication and conversation with administration.”
Through the Black Student Union, students will meet with Baylor’s president about issues of diversity and inclusion, and they will have a cabinet on diversity with Palacios, said Dallas junior Annette Christie, an intern for the department of multicultural affairs.
“We know that it’s going to promote unity internally as a black community and externally through Baylor,” Christie said.
Baylor’s black student union will aid in the process of making history by hosting the annual Coalition of Black Ambassadors conference at Baylor for the first time in spring 2018. The conference will feature various events, speakers and students traveling from Big XII universities to attend workshops.
The meeting continued with Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president for student life, swearing in presidents from various black organizations that were represented. They vowed to honor their role as black leaders and aid in the progression of diversity at Baylor. The black student union will formally meet once a semester to give the state of the union address.
“Tonight we make history, tonight we become the change that we seek,” said Madison.