Supporting diversity initiatives at the University of Arizona
History of the African American Cultural Center
The University of Arizona’s African American Cultural Resource Center was established in 1991, a year and a half after students protested in front of the administration building for more resources and attention to be dedicated to supporting diversity and the unique needs of Black students on campus. From that protest, the students established an area dedicated to developing leadership, promoting social justice, and improving academic skills. The building that housed the newly formed cultural unit, formerly belonging to the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, was renamed the Martin Luther King Jr. Building and is now affectionately referred to as “the MLK”. Now African American Student Affairs, is part of the Dean of Students Division and is known as AASA.
In 2016, after the uprisings on college campuses all over the United States as a result of police brutality against Black bodies, students from each of the cultural and resource centers at the University of Arizona campus, banded together and formed the Marginalized Students of the University of Arizona (MSUA). The MSUA made national news as students marched, protested, and created a list of demands to present to the university administration. Two of the demands made by AASA were for the renovation of the space at the MLK and for more space. In 2016 the funds were approved and in April 2017, the space received a much-needed makeover. Not only were the ramp and bathroom in 209 made accessible, but the entirety of room 207 was obtained and converted into a reception area complete with a kitchen space and a Black power painted all-gender bathroom. Office spaces have new flooring, a Tranquility Room was added in the previous kitchenette space, and part of 209 was converted to an office space for Graduate Assistants.
Not long after, Vivian Da Artist, a local artist, donated numerous original paintings to be displayed in 209. New furniture was purchased, and new paint, lighting, and flooring have converted the space into a true home away from home.
Over the decades African American Student Affairs, has maintained our commitment to providing a comfortable and dynamic space for students and advancing diversity at the University of Arizona, in support of Black student retention and graduation. The tradition continues.