Nov. 6, 2006 -- Since slaves helped build the Academical Village and the first black students broke down barriers to enroll at the University of Virginia in the 1950s, African Americans have claimed their place in the U.Va. community. That place has only grown in stature in recent years, as the black graduation rate at U.Va. has led the nation’s public universities for 12 years in a row — a distinction that led the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education to single out the efforts of the Office of African-American Affairs.
The Office of African-American Affairs was created in 1976 to support black students and help change the institutional culture to embrace diversity. The commemoration of the office’s 30th anniversary will kick off with a presentation on Nov. 7 by U.Va. historian Ervin L. Jordan Jr. His talk, “The First Generation: Thirty Years of the Office of African-American Affairs” is free and open to the public and will be held at 7 p.m. in Minor Hall Auditorium.
“We wanted to provide the University community with a ‘history lesson’ about the racial climate and progress during the time prior to, during, and beyond the founding of the Office of African-American Affairs,” said associate dean Sylvia Terry.
Jordan, who is a special collections research archivist and the University’s records manager, is working on a forthcoming book on the history of African Americans at the University since it opened its doors in 1819. He is an internationally recognized Civil War and African-American history scholar and the author or three books, including “Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in the Civil War,” for which he received a fellowship from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities as a scholar-in-residence.
More events celebrating the 30th anniversary of OAAA are being planned for the spring.