Another Light on the Hill Black Students at Tufts


A capella group Essence perform at Parent's Weekend reception, 2005

Over the past decade there have been noticeable changes in the campus’ black population. The number of students of African descent during the early 1990s was lower than in the early 1980s, although the numbers have recently risen from the low numbers of the late 1980s-early 1990s (a source of student discontent then and now). Concurrently, the black student population is increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity and place of birth. In a realization of this latter change, the African-American Society voted in 1991 to rename itself as the Pan-African Alliance to reflect more globally the representation and the concerns of its membership. More recently, students have formed the Caribbean Club and the African Political, Social and Cultural Association. Although black women have recently performed in the Jackson Jills, African-American women formed the a cappella singing group, Essence (now a singing group for women of all races interested in the performing of music from the African diaspora).

African-American male and female students, while perhaps not as visible on some sports teams as they were in the 1980s, were and are valued contributors to Tufts athletic squads. Thus, Khari Brown and more recently Greg Michel, Mike Andrews and Bobby Mpuku have been and are playing for the men's basketball team. Damon Adams, Dave Carl and Henry Morgan have been recent stalwarts on the football team. Damon Adams, Jayson Brown, Noel Dennis and James Lavallee anchored the men’s track team in the mid-1990s. Shawntell Manning, Randi Henry, Tricia McDermott and more recently Melissa Harper and Deonca Williams have starred and are starring on the women's track team.

Students of African descent have continued to involve themselves in any number of campus activities. They have run for and won election to the Senate, with Ancy Verdier and Omar Mattox having run for and won recent elections to the TCU presidency. Other students have served on the TCUJ, the Elections Board, and the Concert Board. Students of African descent have been recent nominees for the Wendell Phillips Award, with Ancy Verdier having been chosen as the 1996 recipient. Women of African descent have given presentations in the annual “Beyond the Classroom” program sponsored by the Deans’ Office and the Women's Center. African-American students have continued to run for Homecoming King and Queen, with Latonya Christian having been elected as the 1995 Homecoming Queen (announcement of which was mentioned in Ebony magazine. In concert with other concerned students, students of African descent have been among the spearheads of campus-wide activities on behalf of financial aid.

– Gill, "Another Light on the Hill"