From the Archives & Special Collections: Black Arts Festival

The Archives & Special Collections recently acquired this program from the 1973 Black Arts Festival. The Black Arts Festival was an annual event sponsored by the Black Student Union (BSU). The BSU was founded in 1968 and Puget Sound’s first Black Arts Festival was held in 1969. The festival was a week-long celebration of black culture and included musical performances, art exhibits, lectures, poetry readings, fashion shows, dances, and a soul food dinner.

Several notable individuals were brought to campus for the festivals, including comedian, activist, and philosopher Dick Gregory, Alex Haley, author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Roots, and civil rights activist Angela Davis. The April 30, 1971 issue of “The Trail” recounts Haley’s visit in great detail over several different articles. Students were so impressed with his lecture that they formed a committee to nominate him for an honorary degree. Nearly all of the events associated with the Black Arts Festival were free and open to the public. For many years the Black Arts Festival was held the week before Spring Weekend, usually in late April. In 1977 the BSU moved the festival to February in recognition of Black History Month. After a decade of success with the Black Arts Festival, the event ended in 1978.

If you are interested in learning more about the Black Arts Festival, “The Trail”, the Tamanawas yearbook, and our ephemera collection are great resources. Come visit us in the A&SC!

The Archives & Special Collections is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM or by appointment.

By Laura Edgar, Assistant Archivist

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