The "Black History at Bucknell" timeline was begun by Marissa Calhoun '10 as part of her independent study course work during the spring of 2009. Much of the details were uncovered in the University archives and were also derived from the testimonies of Bucknell students, staff and alumni.
1864 — Reports found in University archives indicate that runaway slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad through university grounds were assisted by Lucy Bliss, daughter of Justin Loomis, Bucknell University's President at the time.
NOTE: On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. However, slavery in the U.S. officially ends Dec. 6, 1865, the day the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified
1867 — Charles Bell, a former runaway slave from West Virginia, who can both read and write, passes through Bucknell on his way to Canada. Bell is hired to maintain Bucknell's grounds and instead makes the university his home. According to Lewisburg town records, Bell worked for the institution for more than 40 years. (See The Charles Bell Story)
1875 — Edward McNight Brawley becomes the first African American student to attend Bucknell University. After graduation, Brawley goes on to become President and Co-Founder of Selma University in Alabama and Morris College in South Carolina.
1883 — Aaron Puller becomes the second African American student to graduate from the University; Puller ultimately becomes a college dean.
1885 — William Granger becomes the third African American student to graduate from the University; Granger goes on to become a doctor, start a private practice, and become a school principal.
1886 — Albert Pegues becomes the fourth African American student to graduate from the University; Pegues goes on to become a college dean and supervisor at the School for the Blind in Washington, DC.
1898 — James Diggs is the fifth African American student to graduate from Bucknell; after graduation Diggs goes on to become a college president.
1899 — Bucknell stages a performance of Stage Dance, a play that includes characters in blackface, a theatrical practice where white performers darken their skin and exaggerate their lips and eyes in a racist caricature of African American features.
NOTE: Only five African American students graduate from the University before the year 1900; none are women.
1903 — Robert Josiah Terrel is the first African American to integrate Bucknell University Greek Life when he joins Sigma Alpha Epsilon; Terrel is also the first African American to have his picture featured in the school yearbook.
1924 — Helen Evelyn Holmes is the first African American woman to graduate from Bucknell University.
1949 — Jeannette Bowling Maharajh and Myra Thomas become the second and third African American women to graduate from Bucknell. Maharajh would go on to become a teacher and vice-principal in Trinidad, as well as an education activist in the U.S.
1952 — Beverly Dunston-Scott is the fourth African American woman to graduate from Bucknell. With help from the petitions of her fellow classmates, Dunston-Scott is also the second African American woman allowed to live in on campus. Dunston-Scott becomes a member of the Board of Trustees in 1977.
1956 - The only African American student on campus his first year at the University, Henry Livas played basketball as well as saxophone in the University band. However, he's most widely hailed for having put Bucknell on the map for tennis, having played and beaten Arthur Ashe a total of four times. Livas graduated the University in 1960, going on to become an engineer at NASA.
1958 — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visits Bucknell University.
Martin Luther King Describes Full Living
"Dr. Martin Luther King, president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, spoke Wednesday at Chapel. Given world-wide recognition in the Anti-Segregation Movement of Alabama, Dr. King is furthering the opportunities of the Negroe in the South. He received his A.B. degree from Morehouse College and is a graduate of Crozier Theological Seminary. He qualified for his PH. D. in Philosophy at Boston University.
Dr. King's talk, "The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life," followed the theme that life must be three-dimensional in order to be complete. The first dimension is the length of life or concern for rational and moral self-interest. According to Dr. King, "when we do life's work so well that no one else could do it better, we have filled the length of life." The second dimension, the extension of life to others, involves the capacity for "dangerous costly altruism" similar to that exhibited by the Good Samaritan. Dr. King pointed out that every object in our daily life is dependent upon other persons and other parts of the world. It is not enough that our lives have length and breadth. We must reach up and discover God, the third dimension of height.
Dr. King described our civilization as "sensate," having no place for things we cannot discover through one of the five senses. "We can never see all the great things of life, although they exist all about us. We must seek and develop a relationship with the eternal source of reality." Thus, such a relationship with God will give us inspiration to keep going, added Dr. King, giving examples of his own work with segregation in Montgomery, Alabama.
Dr. King concluded by saying that we must love the Self to gain length but must not stop there. We should "Love thy neighbor as thyself" to gain breadth. The fulfillment of a complete life is an upward reach to God achieved by loving "The Lord thy God, with all thy heart, soul, and mind." Every life must have this sky."
The Bucknellian, Jan Powers, May 1, 1958
NOTE: Bucknell begins to integrate its sports teams in 1960.
1961 — Richard Boddie becomes the first African American to run track at the University.
1964 — Frank Wood and Gil Homes integrate Bucknell's swim team.
1971 — Bucknell University hires its first African American tenure-track faculty member, Professor Richard Smith, who joined the Department of English.
1973 — The first black man to play basketball for Bucknell is Harvey Carter.
1977 — Milton "Skip" Waddel is the first African American to play as a Bison on the Bucknell baseball diamond.
The Iota Gama chapter of Phi Beta Sigma receives a charter at Bucknell University, becoming the first African American fraternity to make Bucknell its campus home.
1978 — Professor Richard Smith of the Department of English becomes the first tenured African American faculty member at Bucknell University.
1979 — Albert Knight becomes the first African American to integrate Bucknell's lacrosse team.
1983 — Two university residential learning dormitories are dedicated: "7th Street House" is designated as the women's African American Studies House and "Edwards House" is designated as the men's African American studies house.
Wrestler, Thomas Scotton ('78) and distance runner. Thomas McLean ('78) are the first two African Americans inducted into Bucknell University's Sports Hall of Fame.
Three African American female students, having pledged through Millersville University, are initiated into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
NOTE: As of 1983, African American women had integrated three of the University's varsity sports teams: basketball, swimming, and track & field.
1985 — Students organize to combat institutional racism by hosting "Speak Out," an open demonstration, where they delivered The African American Student Manifesto. (The Bucknellian, 1985)
1987 — Bucknell establishes the Race/Gender Resource Center with the mission of creating a curriculum that is more inclusive of issues of race and gender.
Debra Russell-Brown becomes the first African American woman to participate on the Bucknell Swim Team.
1988 — Ed Robinson ('86) writes to the Bucknell Alumni Association asking them to consider the creation of an African American Alumni Association that would represent Bucknell's current students and alumni of color.
Sigma Chi Fraternity hosts a party were white students dress in costumes mocking stereotypes of African Americans: "On Friday night October 28th, from eleven until two in the morning, a group of white males, brothers of Sigma Chi Fraternity, painted their bodies black, placed matted, frizzy wigs on their heads, and dressed in basketball uniforms, parading around the Sigma Chi basement as the Harlem Globetrotters." (The Bucknellian, Nov. 4 1988 issue)
1989 — The STEP Program (Student Transfer Enrichment Program) is a diversity program started by a group of Bucknell faculty and the current Vice President of Academic Affairs. It is funded by a five-year grant. There are five colleges, including Bucknell, who apply for and receive the grant funds, but after a year or so, Bucknell is the only school that still has a program running. The overall goal of the program is to enhance diversity. Due to the passion and support of the individuals involved, the STEP program is successful overall. It brings in some top students from diverse backgrounds who excel at Bucknell. Many of these students earn academic honors at Bucknell and go on to be accepted into top Ph.D. programs. Not only is racial diversity enhanced, by also life experience and community experience are enhanced since many of the students are older. Some bring children with them. The STEP program eventually evolves into the Bucknell Community College Scholars Program.
Four young men of color, Michael G. Mackay ('92), Alvin McCoy III ('90), Robert E. Chambers, Jr. ('91) and N. Scott Gunn ('91) were initiated, through an active chapter at East Stroudsburg University, into Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
NOTE: There are nine historically African American fraternities and sororities. The first two such organizations to charter official chapters at the University were Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated (Iota Gamma Chapter) and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. The third to establish a charter at Bucknell University is Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated (Xi Kappa Chapter, 1992). Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated has a joint charter at the University between Bucknell and Bloomsburg University. From Larnie Booker ('91), an initiate of Kappa Alpha Psi, Xi Kappa Chapter: " Through my research I discovered that at one point or another, members of all of the 'divine nine' had attended Bucknell." [MC]
1990 — Critically acclaimed African American writer/producer Spike Lee visits Bucknell University.
1992 — Grammy award-winning African American saxophonist and composer Branford Marsalis plays in the Weis Center.
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. hosts the 1st Annual Bucknell Invitational Step Competition.
1993 — Hugh Masekela, South African trumpet player, performs in the Weis Center.
1994 — Professor Leslie Patrick of the Department of History becomes the first African American woman to receive tenure at Bucknell.
1996 — Afaa Weaver serves as Bucknell's first African American Poet-in-Residence at the Stadler Center for Poetry.
1999 — A joint charter is established for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. between Bucknell University and Bloomsburg University.
2002 — Bucknell inaugurates the Janet Weis Prize for Contemporary Letters by honoring Toni Morrison, the only living American Nobel Laureate in Literature.
Sonia Sanchez serves as the Stadler Center for Poetry Poet-in-Residence.
2005 — Bucknell enters into a relationship with the Posse Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting diversity efforts at institutions of higher education. Bucknell enrolls its first group of Posse Scholars from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Bucknell establishes the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender with the mission of "supporting faculty development, scholarship, and interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration around issues of race, ethnicity, and gender and their intersection with other areas of difference."
Roberta Reed '07 becomes the first African American Bucknell student to run for Lewisburg Borough Council.
2006 — Bucknell partners with the Jack Kemp Cooke Foundation to expand the STEP program into the Bucknell Community College Scholars program. Bucknell receives funding from the Cooke foundation for five years. The support was renewed for an additional year based on the success of the program. Faculty member Professor Joel T. Wade serves as the Academic Director of the program. The Cooke Foundation provides money for financial aid for students who transfer to Bucknell. Like STEP, the program has been very successful in bringing in diverse students who have excelled at Bucknell.
2007 — Bucknell expands partnership with the Posse Foundation to include a second posse cohort from the Boston area.
Bucknell honors poet and Nobel Laureate in Literature Derek Walcott with the Janet Weis Prize for Contemporary Letters.
Bucknell honors Beverly Dunston-Scott ('52) with the Alumni Association Award for Service to Humanity.
2008 — Marissa Calhoun ('10) becomes the first African American woman to sit on the Bucknell University Alumni Board as a student representative.
2009 — Bucknell honors novelist, short story writer, essayist John Edgar Wideman with the Janet Weis Prize for Contemporary Letters.
The rising senior class of 2010 elects Bucknell's first black student government senior class president, Langston Tingling Clemmons.
Tim Siebles serves as the Stadler Center for Poetry Poet-in-Residence.
A student initiated forum is held in response to an increase in controversial speakers brought to the University. The speakers discussed included F.W. de Klerk, former president of apartheid South Africa, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women's rights activist known for her strong criticism of religious fundamentalism in general and Islam in particular.
Organized by Mahdi Woodard ('09) and African American faculty, 47 students of color organize a silent protest against racially insensitive and apathetic attitudes at Bucknell. The students sat in quietly on a presentation given by Star Parker, author and self-proclaimed "welfare queen." At the conclusion of the speech students filed out of the LC Forum auditorium "two-by-two" in a display of their disapproval.
Jessica Skinner ('09) presents a self-directed documentary entitled African American life at Bucknell to the student body.
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. celebrates 20 years of excellence and achievement under the Xi Kappa Chapter of Bucknell University, welcoming in five new initiates under their Spring 2009 line: Aj Kizekai ('10), Brandon Simmons ('10), Rashod Bumpers ('10), Nick McLeod ('11), Reshiad Jessup ('12).
2010 — Professor Angèle Kingué selected as the first David Morton and Leanne Freas Trout Professor of French and Francophone Studies.
Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Natasha Trethewey serves as the Stadler Center for Poetry Poet-in-Residence.
Bucknell expands its partnership with the Posse Foundation to include a third cohort of scholars from the Los Angeles area.
Bucknell establishes the Griot Institute for Africana Studies, which has as its focus faculty and student intellectual and creative engagement with the interdisciplinary investigation of the cultures, histories, narratives, peoples, geographies and arts of Africa and the African diaspora.
Created in partnership with Parsons Brinckerhoff, an international engineering firm, the Engineering Success Alliance (ESA) begins by assisting 14 members of the Class of 2014. The program provides targeted tutoring to engineering students who did not have access to a strong education in mathematics before enrolling at Bucknell. George Pierson, president and CEO of Parsons Brinckerhoff, has committed $250,000 in start-up funding. Parsons Brinckerhoff and Bucknell are seeking to raise an additional $1 million in private funding to fully endow the program so that it is self-sustaining.
2011 — Bucknell welcomes to campus civil rights activist and historian Bernice Johnson Reagon and Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat as speakers in the Bucknell Forum Series "Creativity: Beyond the Box." Both speakers are MacArthur Fellows.
Janet Bauer Hartman, parent of a 2000 Bucknell graduate, establishes the Bauer Scholarship, which provides four years of no-loan, full-need scholarship for several students from the Baltimore area in each incoming class. A gift of $1 million made through the Charles T. Bauer Foundation established the program and covers a portion of each student's tuition and feeds. The University pays the balance but is working to raise enough additional funding to fully endow the program. In creating the scholarship program, the Hartmans saw an opportunity to help talented local teenagers while advancing Bucknell's goal of increasing campus diversity.
The Teagle Foundation awards a $300,000 grant to Bucknell University, Dickinson College, and Lafayette College for a cooperative project aimed at enhancing diversity and diversity education. The funds will be used to improve students' academic and co-curricular experiences on campus.
2013 — After 19 years of service in Bucknell's International Relations Department, Professor Hilbourne Watson retires at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.
United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey chooses Professor Shara McCallum as the 2013 Witter Bynner Fellowship, a government‐sponsored award for the promotion of poetry, along with Sharon Dolin. Professor McCallum reads her poetry at the James Madison Building in Washington D.C. on April 2nd, 2013.
2014 — Bucknell establishes an academic major and program in Africana Studies.
Sociology professor Linden Lewis becomes the first black person to be awarded a Presidential Professorship.
2015 — In the spring of 2015, three students are suspended for making racial slurs on the air on the campus radio station WVBU. President Bravman responds to the incident and the subsequent conversation on campus about racism at Bucknell in several ways, including supporting three new faculty lines in Africana Studies and a post-doctoral fellowship in Africana Studies.
In response to the WVBU incident and the subsequent university conversation about racism on campus, on April 15th, thousands of students, faculty and staff members gather at a rally for diversity and tolerance. At the rally, students spoke out about equality and fighting back against racism and other forms of discrimination.
In the summer of 2015, the first group of students travel to St. Kitts and Nevis as a part of Bucknell in the Caribbean.
Beginning in the fall semester of 2015, Professor Linden Lewis becomes the first black person to serve as an Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bucknell.
2016 — Bucknell students will travel to Cape Coast for the first iteration of Bucknell in Ghana, a new, semester-long program.
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