Black Liberation 1969 Archive

The Push for a Black Cultural Center

At the beginning of the 1969-1970 school year, SASS made known to the College administration the desire for a Black Cultural Center. During the school year, SASS used a small building reserved for campus social events as a center but citing concerns for privacy, stressed the need a permanent home that would serve exclusively as a Black Cultural Center.

Students articulated their belief that the BCC was necessary in order for black students to have a place at Swarthmore. “It is not a move to separate Black students or their interests entirely from the life of the College,” as a student explained in a preliminary proposal, but rather “it would make the Black student feel more involved and less isolated and alienated in this community.” (1)

Over the course of the spring semester, students were in frequent communication with President Cross to find a permanent space on campus to become the BCC for the following year. In March, students held a nightime vigil at his home, and staged a brief sit-in in his office. After the sit-in, the College agreed to grant SASS the Robinson House and gave the group control over how to use the space.

(1) Don Mizell, “On a Black Cultural Center at Swarthmore,” Black Liberation 1969 Archive, accessed December 12, 2014,