Founded 10 short years after the university’s integration, the Black Student Union was founded in 1968. BSU came about as a social organization and support system for Black students at UF. The organization grew into serving as a voice for issues affecting Black students on campus.
In April 1971, BSU submitted a list of demands to then president, Stephen O’Connell, calling for a number of programs and initiatives to improve the campus climate for Black students. The BSU leaders argued that many Black students were “excluded from meaningful social and cultural endeavors on this campus” and were in need of supportive resources. A Black Cultural Center was one of the student demands.
When the University administration failed to act upon the student demands, a number of student protests and demonstrations were held, culminating in the occupation of the President’s office on April 15, 1971. On this date, dubbed “Black Thursday,” some 67 students would be arrested or suspended for occupying the UF President’s office. When amnesty requests for the suspended/arrested student protesters were denied, the BSU held a rally on April 27, 1971, after which several Black students and some sympathetic peers submitted University withdrawal slips in protest. Over the next few days, more than 100 Black students and their supporters withdrew from the University of Florida.
The student protests motivated the University administration to act and in the fall of 1971, the Institute of Black Culture (IBC) was established. The IBC would be officially dedicated on February 11, 1972 and for more than 40 years the IBC has been a home away from home for numerous students moving through the University of Florida.