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Black Student Organizations

  • By: Richard J. Reddick, Mariama N. Nagbe & Payton R. Anderson
  • In: The SAGE Encyclopedia of Higher Education
  • Edited by: Miriam E. David & Marilyn J. Amey
  • Subject:General Education, Higher Education (general)

Black student organizations (BSOs) are groups that create spaces of collective identity and resistance for Black students at colleges and universities. They have existed since Black people gained access to higher education opportunities across the world. BSOs often resemble and have similar functions to student organizations formed by White students since colonial times—to bring together students with shared academic, social, professional, and political interests. However, the American system of apartheid from slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, to the civil rights era necessitated the creation of organizations to address issues pertinent to Black students in the United States.

Whether informal or formal, recognized by college leaders or underground, BSOs have provided spaces for Black collegians to share common academic interests, expand professional networks, provide welcoming spaces in often ...

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