Inspired by an era of campus activism in the late 1960s, members from the university’s Black Student Union first proposed the idea of a black cultural center in 1971, but was met with resistance. Nevertheless, the students persisted.
Twelve years later after the initial proposal, under the leadership of the Black Studies Program, President Robert Dickeson, and the Black Student Union of 1983, the Black Cultural Center opened its doors on February 1st, 1983. In conjunction with Black History Awareness Month the Center was later named the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center.
- President Dickeson shared that this was an idea the University had been thinking about and was pleased to have the dedication. He also mentioned that the Center would provide an important additional item for the recruitment of minorities.
- Neil Williams shared that his primary hope for the center was that it might improve the quality of campus life for African-American students.
- Richard Kynard shared that it had been a long hard road and it had took 12 years for their (Black Student Union) dream to come true.
- In Robert Dillingham’s speech titled, “The Legacy of Marcus Garvey”, he expressed that Garvey was a misunderstood activist who tried to better the lot of Black people in the U.S. He then quoted Garvey as saying “Men who are earnest are not afraid of consequences”.
- Darryl Miller stated that there would be no Black Studies Department or Marcus Garvey Cultural Center if there were not an active Black support network on campus.
- Bobby Seale concluded the ceremony by talking about Marcus Garvey and his role in representing "black people's historic resistance to racist oppression" and the importance of centers like the newly established one named in Garvey's honor.
The Marcus Garvey Cultural Center is the first Black Cultural Center established on a university campus in the State of Colorado because of the determination of the community and a host of others.
"UNC made history that still stands to this day, but it did not happen without struggle, issues and challenges." - Neil Williams, BA- 83