Featured Collection:

The Black Student Association Publications collection includes Drums (November 1967-October 31, 1969) and The Black Rap (March 17, 1969-1971), Yombo (1971-1974) and Irepodun yearbook (1972-1973), all published by the Black Student Association (BSA). BSA formed in 1967, and Drums was the first newsletter/newspaper published the same year. In 1969, Drums was renamed Black Rap. The earliest year that the archives have for the Yombo is 1971 (Yombo is a Swahili word for a greeting). It is unclear when it started or how often it was published. The Irepodun was created in 1972 and 1973 (Irepodun is Swahili for “Unity is a Must”). It was a yearbook for black students (The University of Illinois also has a yearbook called the Illio).

Materials within the collection include feature articles, editorials, poetry, book reviews, cartoons, photographs, announcements and advertisements about the University, Champaign-Urbana, police, Vietnam, racism, Black events, education, employment opportunities, and white society. BSA students, particularly in the 1960s, had an interest in connecting with the community, as reflected in the publications. Other goals included informing other black students of social and political issues around the University, the community, and the national Black Power Movement. Yombo and the Irepodun also feature quite a bit of poetry and images relating to the performing arts. Many alumni expressed to Joy Williamson, author of Black Power on Campus the University of Illinois 1965-75, that these publications had more positive images that did not reflect some of the negative stereotypes that African Americans were often associated with in the mainstream media.

Although the current processed collection is only .3 cubic feet, Visiting Archives Research Librarian, Jessica Elizabeth Ballard reports that the size will most likely change as the University of Illinois Archives recently received a large collection from the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center. Since its construction in 1969, the Center has been a hub for many black students and affiliated organizations. The Black Rap materials, for instance, will grow from 1969 to 1971 holdings to issues dating to 1974. The Black Rap resurfaced from 1993 through 1994, but the materials are still unprocessed. Though the late 1960s and early 1970s saw an increased black student population that was also very socially and politically active, the voices of students producing work on campus are not currently represented within the collection. Through the growth of the collection from the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center materials, we look forward to learning about what other generations of students have been discussing and creating since.

Coalition for Afrikan People in Irepodun, Black Student Association Publications, 1967-1974. 41/66/826. Courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives
Irepodun staff, Black Student Association Publications, 1967-1974. 41/66/826. Courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives