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Desegregation at Centre College: Black Student Union


The Black Student Union, which transformed into the Diversity Student Union, items are located in the Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room. 


Black Student Union Announcement, 1974, Case 12 Newspaper Clippings, Drawer 2, Clubs and Organizations- Students Folder, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College (Danville, KY).  

The Black Student Union announced a convocation that was held to honor Martin Luther King Jr. This convocation has become a reoccurring event during Centre Term, now sponsored by the Diversity Student Union 


Black Student Union Newsletter, 1997, CC-44 Student Organizations, Folder 44.4, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College (Danville, KY). 

The 1997 Black Student Union’s Newsletter is the only thing in the Black Student Unions folder in the archives. In the newsletter, they announce the first convocation that honored Martin Luther King Jr., a tradition that continues today. It also mentions how the BSU would recruit minority middle and high school students together. 


“A beginning...” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), Oct. 13, 1972, Pg 2. 

The Black-White Coalition had their meeting and discussed what their goal would be, which was to be an open place for student an staff to discuss any problems they had at Centre concerning discrimination or issues concerning race. They also discussed having a Black Student Union office that would help those who have financial aid to find ways to take part in special activities.


“A Statement, A Question.” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), Feb. 2, 1973, Pg 4. 

A meeting was scheduled to discuss the issues that arose surrounding the BSU’s lounge in the basement of Yerkes. Fights erupted, and several inappropriate comments were made. The article ends with a few questions that could guide a reader into thinking differently about the different experiences black students may have in comparison to white students.  


“Conflict Erupts Over BSU lounge.” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), Feb. 2, 1973, Pg 1.   

This is the first article in this edition that explains the conflict over the BSU lounge and expands on how the administration apologized for not discussing the new decision with the residents. It also highlights some of the conversation that BSU members had with the residents about the formation of the lounge. 


“Conversation: BSU Hit Attitudes of Students, Administrations and SC” and “Blacks Plan to Test Fraternities Hope to Raise Black Enrollment,” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), Oct. 22, 1970, Pgs. 4 & 5.   

An article that is a Q and A with representatives from the Black Student Union. It sheds light on the perspectives of some black students at the time. In the second paragraph on the first page, Mason is quoted saying, “The students here tend to rather ignore the problem, they just don’t realize the problem between the blacks and whites…” This particle article was not actually published in the Cento, but another newspaper called Buzzword (maybe Catchword) that was created by students who felt like the campus newspaper (The Cento) was not doing a good job at reflecting the views of the student body. During this time there were a few other newspapers that were created for the same reasons. 


“Gardenia Court, Black Student Union weekend to highlight spring activities.” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), March 24, 1972, Pg 2.  

At that time, the Black Student Union wanted to introduce black high school students to Centre through a weekend created to appeal to those students. It included an assortment of activities and may be the beginning of what Centre now calls “Diversity Weekend."


“Letters to the Editors...” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), March 16, 1973, Pg 4.  

Members of the Black Student Union had an intramural basketball team and the opposing team was made up of Dekes. There were Deke pledges who came dressed as the KKK and the black students did not see that as a joke or humorous in any way. They wanted to be respected without having to encounter this type of behavior at Centre.  


Taylor, Ollie. “Letters to the Editors....” The Centre College Cento, Feb. 2, 1973, Pg 4.  

Ollie Taylor discusses the Black Student Union’s lounge that was in the basement of Yerkes. He explains how it serves as their cultural space and shares the difficulties the members have experienced due to the tension between the residents and the BSU  


Willard, John. “Meet the Black Student Union...” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), Oct. 27, 1972.  

Willard introduces the Black Student Union and explains what they had accomplished regarding the increase in enrollment of black students at Centre. Willard also writes about the struggles the organization faced after their funding was decreased. The BSU was also denied an office and a phone. They also found that despite the BSU’s efforts to recruit black students, they found that the low percentage of black students within the student body turned many potential students away from attending Centre. 


Citations Continued

Anderson, Jay, “Why?,” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), March 16, 1973, Pg 5. 

Letter to the editor in which the author abhors the actions of the Dekes at the BSU basketball game. 

Members of Delta Kappa Epsilon, “Dekes Apologize,” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), March 16, 1973, Pg 5.  

An apology from the members of the Deke fraternity for donning white sheets at the DKE-BSU basketball game. They claim the actions were “taken in a spirit with which it was not intended.” 


“Amidst the Trivia...Advisory Board Condems ‘White Sheets’ Dispute,” The Centre College Cento (Danville, KY), March 23, 1973, Pg 1 and 8. 

Reporting on the Advisory Board meeting, during which was discussed, among other things (including the Yerkes lounge to be used by the BSU), the incident involving the Dekes wearing white sheets at the BSU basketball game, and ensuing confrontation between Dekes and members of the BSU at Cowan which resulted in a member of the Deke fraternity being injured after being struck by a glass by a member of the BSU. 


Centre College, Old Centre (Danville, KY), 1971, pg 102 

Photo of BSU members 


Centre College, Old Centre (Danville, KY), 1971, Pg 22, 24, 34, 102. 

This yearbook depicts photos of African American students, challenging Danville and Boyle county to close the racial gap in acceptance of equality. This “diversity could lead to an appreciation of more people... to a kind of freedom.” Also pictured, on page 102, is the Black Student Union, which “works to correct problems of black students on campus.”