Brotherhood, unity keep BUS community together

Regina Garcia Cano

Anniversary banquet celebrates triumphs

Alascia Jones, Joscelyn Pierce and Alyssa Terry sing the Black National Anthem to begin B.U.S.’s 40th anniversary banquet Saturday night. The event was held in the Ballroom and had both past and present members of the B.U.S. board. Rachel Kilroy | Daily K

Credit: DKS Editors

Black United Students’ 40th anniversary celebration was not a regular banquet – it was a family reunion.

Alumni, faculty members and the current executive board of BUS gathered Saturday night to share memories and recognize those who have made a difference in Kent State’s black community.

“That’s why I brought my camera,” said Edward Crosby, first chairman of the department of Pan-African studies, while he greeted BUS President Ashley Tolliver.

“I’m always a part of this,” Crosby said. “Without me, they wouldn’t be in that building (Oscar Ritchie Hall) and without BUS, I couldn’t have been.

“They have established diversity on this campus. Black United Students awakened Kent State University.”

The Institute of African American Affairs, which Crosby founded, became the department of Pan-African studies in 1976.

Tolliver said during 40 years, the organization has ensured the well-being of the black community on this campus.

“Brotherhood, unity and self-determination is what keeps a community together,” Tolliver said. “We’re celebrating organizational strength and service to our community.”

The first president of BUS, Larry Simpson, delivered the keynote speech, “From Black Metaphor to Barack Reality.” In it, he recalled the day when black students marched and temporarily left Kent State.

“We were not that revolutionary, but we were idealistic (and) emotional,” Simpson said. “We didn’t care about the consequences. We knew that we were right.”

“We wanted to be recognized. We wanted skills; we wanted decent jobs; we wanted careers. We wanted to live the lives that we wanted to live. We didn’t want anybody to place burdens on us.”

Simpson, current senior vice president for academic affairs of Berklee College of Music, said President-elect Barack Obama has benefited by the collective struggle of the previous generations. But he said the struggle always continues.

“Forty years later, we have what we could not have envisioned in 1968,” Simpson said. “This is yet another beginning. The challenge to the current leadership of BUS is to carry on – to have a vision of what it is that you want to do because we now have the physical structures, we have buildings, we have programs, we have faculties.”

Now, Simpson said, the challenge is to find the means to engage the entire university, not only black students.

“That is the lesson of Barack Obama; that is the reality that he is facing,” he said. “He is not the president of the black United States. He is the president of the United States.”

Simpson said the best lesson BUS taught him is to trust people.

“If you’re doing the right thing, they will have your back and good things can happen,” Simpson said.

At the banquet, Crosby was recognized for the work he did over decades for the advancement of black students at Kent State.

“The provost at the time said ‘Dr. Crosby, would you like to have tenure?'” he said. “I arrogantly said ‘No because the students will tenure me.'”

Timothy Moore, president of BUS in 1971 and current associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said he is a “living proof” of what Crosby taught to students.

“What he taught us has not been in vain,” Moore said. “(He) gave me a better understanding of my purpose on this planet.”

Throughout the event, former leaders of BUS told their experiences as members of the organization.

Sasha Parker, president of BUS from 2006 to 2008, said the group prepared her for life after graduation.

“It taught me to be disciplined, to work hard, the importance of networking,” she said. “I learned how to be well-rounded. I apply a lot of the skills that I learned in BUS to my daily life.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].