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The Association of Black Students is an organization with a rich, powerful history that all of its members should have the opportunity to know.

The first class of African-Americans was admitted in 1952. Unfortunately, this was a failed attempt at equality; Black students faced discrimination from all spheres. This all changed in 1967, with the formation of the Association of Black Students (the Association of Black Collegiates at the time). With the Black Manifesto of 1968, Black leaders presented Washington University leadership with a list of expectations of equality and acknowledgment. Among these expectations was the institution of a Black Studies program, a demand for an increase in the admittance of qualified Black students, and sufficient financial support for those admitted. We are happy to say that all of these expectations were well met and laid the foundation for the thriving academic and social Black community here at Washington University today.  Fifty-five years ago, students fought for our right to have the opportunities we have now. We encourage you to get involved in our community.


History Timeline

1892: Termination of admission of African Americans due to Jim Crow attitudes of a small number of white students who protested their inclusion on a school trip

1949: The Student Committee for the Admission of Negroes (SCAN) formed to lobby for full admission of African Americans; the Chancellor and Board opened all graduate divisions to black applicants

1952: The first class of African-American students was admitted.

1968: Black Manifesto published; Association of Black Students (originally Association of Black Collegiates) formed.

1969: African and Afro-American Studies Program (originally Black Studies) formed; renamed AFAS 1986

1978: Re-evaluation of Black Manifesto

1983: ABS president Clarence Robie succeeds in getting a student seat on the Board of Trustees, a first for any student group.

1986: President Stephanie Lewis makes the Board of Trustees seat permanent, also a first for any student group.

1987: Political Affairs Chair leads to action against Washington University supporting Apartheid in South Africa.

1988: Kevin Foster initiates analysis of Admissions processes regarding minority students.

1992: Gerald Early becomes chair of AFAS. Aaron Grier leads a series of meetings in protest to the fact that the chairs of the program consistently are people with no background in African or African American Studies.

1997/1998: Celebrated 30th Anniversary. This year ABS reviewed the Black Manifesto once again and formed a committee of members to come up with a way to address the concerns that were still relevant 30 years later. The document created is the Action Proposal. There was a ceremonial march on Brookings and the Action Proposal was presented to Chancellor Wrighton.

ABS 2004-2005

Fall 2004: ABS raised over $900 for the Give Thanks, Give Back community service program. We also established networks with other STL colleges and universities including Harris Stowe State University, Saint Louis University, and Webster University. ABS celebrated Black History Month with a full calendar of events

First Ever ABS African and African American Studies Professors’ Appreciation Day

First Annual Rumble on the Swamp- ABS v. BSA tackle football game.

First Annual ABS Celebrations Weekend Panel and Brunch

2018: Hamsini Living Learning Community opens for residency on Frat Row. It was residential housing specifically for students who identify as Black or of African descent and desired to live amongst other Black students while cultivating their own community. Also during this time, the Association of Black Students celebrated its 50th anniversary.

2022: ABS held the first annual Black Convocation in Graham Chapel.


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