The Towson University Black Student Union (BSU) was formally founded on February 25, 1970. Led by Arthur Woodard - the first president of the BSU - a group of black students entered President James Fisher's office to demand resources and support so that they could adequately cater to the needs of Towson's Black student population.
An informal BSU was active prior to the meeting with President Fisher, as black students organized in order to voice their experience attending a predominantly white college. However, formal recognition of the Union meant the school had to allocate funding to support space for BSU offices, staff, and initiatives.
Establishment of the Black Cultural Center
In 1974 the Black Cultural Center was established on campus, with Julius Chapman as its director. The Center was founded with support and funding from the BSU, the Black Faculty and Administrators Association, the Afro-American Studies Program, and Academic Affairs.
The Cultural Center was founded to provide social and academic support to black students navigating life and education on a predominately white campus.
"...the Black experience on the Towson campus involves a two-fold alientation, which is fostered by the College's present structure. There is first an alientation from the community at large, and secondly, there is alientation of self. The Black Cultural Center will stand as one attempt of offering a solution to the black community on this campus."
- Julius Chapman, February 22, 1974 Towerlight article
Today the Black Cultural Center lives on in the work of the African American Student Development Program, that aims to support, uplift, and celebrate the achievements of black and african students at Towson.
The Black Student Union has led a number of important events since 1970, including the Student Racism Forum (April 1988 and November 1989).
Annual events hosted by the BSU include the Founders' Day Banquet on February 25th, the Ebony Lounge talent show, the Ebony Excellence Awards Banquet and Charity Ball, BSU Fashion Show, as well as speakers series and forums. Learn about about modern BSU events on the BSU Twitter archive.
Guide to the History of Student Activism at TU
Black Student Union digital materials
Unearthing Towson's History Project
written by Allison Fischbach, Research and Archives Associate, Spring 2022.