The NUBAA Archives: Contributions Past, President and Future

You will be pleased to know the formal presentation to the University has been made regarding the establishment of The NUBAA Archive at Northwestern University. This effort, once completed, would become unparalleled among non-HBCUs in the United States. The following is an excerpt from the presentation and speaks to the economic considerations inherent in establishing The NUBAA Archives.

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African-American alumni have contributed millions of dollars back to Northwestern University. However it is fair to say that aside from the presence of a few relatively small endowment funds, this giving has been sporadic and not organized in the best possible way. The Northwestern University Black Alumni Association aspires to serve as a more focused vessel for African-American giving. In fact, NUBAA has set a goal of developing an infrastructure that will lead to $1 million in annual donations to Northwestern. To that end, we can think of no greater effort that would stimulate interest in such an effort than development of the NUBAA Archives.

The development of the NUBAA Archives is perhaps the most important component of the bridge NUBAA is attempting to build to reconnect an often disgruntled and disaffected segment of the alumni base back to Northwestern. We believe the Archives project offers several opportunities to the University.

  • Most simply, documentation of the rich history and contributions of African-Americans to Northwestern is itself a statement of the value of having admitted African-Americans. Too often the conversation revolves around opportunities, entitlements or disparities and not enough around the legitimate success and contributions of our students and alumni. An Archive would tell that story in a way that would serve the University well.
  • The Archive would serve as a prominent means of reconnecting alumni with each other and the University. The pride generated by the Archives would foster immeasurable good will toward the University. This good will would not only enhance the memories and reputation of the University among our community but would lead toward more tangible outcomes, including applications and contributions.
  • The timing of the Archive project is crucial. Development and completion of the project in a timetable allow its unveiling as part of the 2018 Commemoration of the Bursar Takeover of 1968 would be the definitive way to turn the event into a celebration of Northwestern instead of a protest.

Black House

The (prior) Department of African American Student Affairs Building (aka The Black House) receives thousands of visits a year by those who remember it as the hub of student life during our time at Northwestern. There currently isn’t much to visit within the hallowed walls beyond the conference room. The presence of an exhibit from the NUBAA Archives within these walls would serve as focal point for material contributions and financial donations. It would be expected that the emotionality generated by such a visit would be immediately parlayed into successful financial asks.

The presence of a rotating exhibit from the NUBAA Archives at the Black House would provide the easiest and clearest focus of our asks for donations on behalf of the University. NUBAA and the University could market and promote the Black House as a museum of sorts celebrating the history, traditions and successes of our alumni. We believe and have advocated for making the Black House a cultural center in addition to its student affairs purposes is the appropriate next step in its evolution, and answers questions about its relevancy in the face of the upcoming expanded university student center.

  • The NUBAA Archives will research, organize, disseminate, publicize, exhibit and archive the history students, faculty and prominent staff of African descent at Northwestern University from its inception to today.
  • The NUBAA Archives will implement a comprehensive survey of Northwestern schools/departments, collections held by community organizations and independent historians to compile the history of Blacks at Northwestern.
  • The NUBAA Archives honors the pioneers who paved the way for scholars of color to matriculate through Northwestern University.

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