The atmosphere at 921 West Jefferson St. was similar to a family reunion Friday as Florida State University held the official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Black Student Union.
Students and alumni gathered to watch the cutting of the garnet and gold ribbon by FSU BSU President, Maurice Wedderburn and FSU President John Thrasher.
The crowd included siblings Doby Flowers, FSU’s first black homecoming queen, and Fred Flowers, FSU’s first black scholarship athlete, as well as past BSU presidents and vice presidents.
After hearing remarks from several administrators, including Charee Williams, president of the FSU National Black Alumni Association, attendees were able to tour the new space that includes a student lounge, meeting rooms, a large multipurpose room and a kitchen.
For 50 years, they were housed on Woodward Avenue in a small space, unlike the 5,600 square-foot, two-story, location they will now share with FSU’s African-American studies department.
As a result of fervent lobbying by numerous student leaders, $1.5 million in Public Education Capital Outlay funds were approved allowing construction to commence in January 2017.
Wedderburn said, “Sean Pittman, attorney and past BSU member, was extremely instrumental in the process of receiving this house.
“This building serves as a central hub. I’m observing how it’s really bringing students and various organizations together. Our house is a symbol of fellowship and unity,” Wedderburn added.
The BSU at FSU was created in 1968. The BSU was created to provide a safe-haven for minority students to develop unity, network, and instill a form of identity and inclusion.
FSU alumna Tasha Smith said, “I’m excited about the house because the old house was off-site. Having something that is built and recognized by the university makes me feel like we are more ingrained in the fabric of the university. I hope they’re able to make it a home like we did when we were here.”
Also featured in the BSU house are several artifacts including a 1987 FSU yearbook and a BSU election brochure from 1980.
The house welcomes all students to socialize with their peers, attend events, study, or just hang out throughout the day. From Monday-Friday, the house is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“The building is a walk of living history and opportunities for black students at FSU. More than anything, it’s a testament to FSU’s focus of making sure the university is more diverse,” said Cyanne John McClean.