Historic Black Cultural Center gives Black students space to be authentic selves

Alumni created memories, built connections at the center


Austin Patterson, The Exponent

The Black Cultural Center, located at 118 Beech St., is a place on campus that has stood the test of time and continues to be a reminder to all students at Baldwin Wallace University that there is room for Black and minority students to exist and live as their most authentic selves with each other.  

The first conversation about the establishment of a B.C.C. on campus was in November of 1969. Since then, the B.C.C. has continued to be recognized as a place of sanctuary and security for Black and minority students on campus.  

On college campuses, especially at majority-white institutions like BW, environments specifically catered to different cultural backgrounds are important, said Heaven Roberts, a 2017 BW graduate.   

“People deserve to have a place where they feel comfortable, safe, and be them [sic] true selves around other people who understand them and their experiences,” Roberts said.  

A space such as B.C.C. has given BW students a chance to be in a space where they do not have to conform to the dominant culture or conceal the characteristics that make them unique. The center has become a key point of unity for Black students at BW.  

Derrick Simpson, who graduated in 2019, recalled his most favorite memory from the B.C.C.  Throughout his time at BW, Simpson formed most of his friendships at B.C.C.  

“As a freshman in college, seeing that there was a house for Black students was impactful,” Simpson said.  

The B.C.C. not only gives Black students and other minorities a place to connect with people like themselves, but it also conveys a message that these small yet powerful communities exist at BW and should not be overlooked or ignored.  

“They can’t say no to us for wanting community” said Joanna Watts, an alumna of class of 2018.   

Recently, new upgrades have been made to the center. The office location has been moved to the second level of the building, which may bring more student traffic to the center.   

Courtney Robinson, a program manager for the Center for Inclusion, said that the B.C.C. “allows students to have direct access to us, build stronger relationships with students and be more in touch with what is going on around campus.”  

For current students such as senior Austin Watkins, he hopes that students continue to make an effective use of the space. Watkins said he wanted the B.C.C. to be “visible and for the house to be highlighted on campus tours or in any positive way possible.”  

“[I hope BW students will] come together, make connections and network with students of different backgrounds in the space,” Watkins said.