Black Action Through Unity
Scope and Contents
This collection looks at the student organization Black Action Through Unity (BATU) from the perspective of the organization. Though the date range of BATU is from 1967 to present, the materials in the collection begin in 1977. The collection includes scrapbooks, student publications, correspondence, conference journal, promotional materials, photographs and audiovisual materials.
- Creation: 1970 - 2018
Biographical / Historical
Black Action Through Unity (BATU) is a student organization at the University of Dayton that was established in 1967, during the fall semester of the 1967-1968 school year. It was founded with the purpose to promote self-help and pride in the black student community of the University of Dayton. On February 6th, 1969, BATU submitted a list of eight demands to Fr. George Barrett, assistant to the president, and Curtis Hicks, director of the Human Relations Board with a response to the demands expected by April 3rd, 1969 and compliance to the demand’s programs enacted by August 1969. The Human Relations Board met and approved action on some of the demands, which eventually resulted in black recruiting officers being assigned to the Admissions office in fall 1969 and the establishment of the Center for Afro-American Affairs and the African and Afro-American Studies Program in January 1970.
BATU continued to be active in black student life, and from fall 1977 to February 1980, the organization produced the campus newsletter UHURU. The newsletter contained information on BATU, meeting minute briefs, brief campus news, historical facts, interviews with prominent black figures, and sports information. In 1981, BATU organized a march in support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on January 15th where students, faculty and visitors marched from O’Reilly Hall to the University Chapel. The program included then BATU President Keith Ware reading a poem and concluded with participants signing the Black National Anthem. This march was repeated on January 14th, 1982 organized by BATU Chairman Harold Pope. By this point in 1982, BATU’s main purposes were seen as promoting unity among the black student population, supporting cooperation between white and black students, providing cultural events for students along with the Center for Afro-American Affairs and standing in as the governing body for black students and coordinating with the parallel Student Association.
In 1985, BATU, along with two other student organizations, organized a protest against apartheid in South Africa, commemorating the black lives lost in the riots in Sharpeville in 1960. The Fourth Annual Leadership Conference sponsored by BATU later that year, focused on the practice of apartheid in South Africa. BATU identified as an organization that existed to take care of the needs of the black student population not addressed by the Student Association. On December 7th, 1988, BATU held a kwanza celebration to bring more awareness of other cultures to the general student population. By 1990, the organization had begun to focus on cultural enrichment, academic enhancement and social activities to promote unity among the black student population. Additionally, it sought to enhance campus unity through cooperation with the student government and emphasis of the fact that membership in the organization was open to any race.
The spirit of cooperation continued throughout the 1990s, when BATU joined with the LASA organization in 1997 to create UD’s first-ever Political Awareness Week. This was followed up by several events being organized in part by BATU, along with a few other student organizations, to celebrate black history month in February 1998. BATU received their own house in the UD student neighborhood in 1998, which became not only a residence of some students but also cultural center for black students at UD. The organization at this point was seeking to share black culture with the rest of the student population and to promote the idea of diversity. This emphasis held through the turn of the millennium and in 2000 BATU was one of the leading organizations behind the fourth annual “Colors of Leadership” conference that was held to celebrate black history month. Another collaborative event occurred in 2008, the first Voter Registration Hip-Hop Festival with the purpose of getting students to register to vote in the upcoming election.
With the transition to the second decade of the new millennium, BATU began expressing itself more politically. In 2014, it organized a town hall meeting on September 11th to allow students and faculty a time to discuss the shootings in Ferguson, Missouri and Beavercreek, Ohio, as well as the subsequent activist movement “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”. In 2016, BATU organized a silent protest as a result of a racial slur that was written on a black student’s door, which was attended both by members of BATU and those outside the organization like members of the student government, faculty and President Spina. However, even amidst political debate about the simultaneous occurrence of black history month and I love UD month in February, BATU continued to organize cultural events celebrating black history month like the soul food potluck held at the BATU house and the March for Black History, both in February 2015. Also, the growing emphasis on black leadership in the university community was evidenced by BATU receiving the Inclusivity Award at the 2018 Student Leadership Awards.
BATU continues to thrive and engage both the black student community and the general student population into the present. In 2018, it established the first black excellence ball to celebrate black history month. Also in 2018, students from BATU, partnered with other organizations, attended the 103rd annual Association for the Study of African American Life and History Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Shortly afterward, BATU celebrated their 50th anniversary as a recognized student organization in the 2018-2019 school year. Finally, in February 2019, BATU hosted a black student leader’s panel with black leaders attending from Central State University, Wright State University, Wilberforce University and the University of Dayton.
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Language of Materials