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Moved to action after a successful and illuminating
2016 reunion of Black alumni of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, alumna Dr.
Cheryl L. Evans (1968) decided to take on the critical project identified by the
group, collecting and documenting the stories of the Black alumni who attended the
University between 1960 and 1970. Dubbing these students "Black Pioneers," given the dearth, and then growth, of Black students on campus during the decade, Evans used her connections with alumni and her history as a Black student leader to reach out about recording experiences for preservation and research purposes. In collaboration with Special Collections and University Archives, Evans began the "UMass Black Pioneers Project," and sent an online questionnaire to around 85 alumni in September 2018. The survey addresses alumni’s backgrounds, academic and social experiences and support systems on campus, and racial discrimination and activism, as well as current perceptions of the University and advice for students. Participation was voluntary, and is ongoing.
The UMass Black Pioneers Project Records contain some planning materials and correspondence for the project, and primarily consist of written answers made in response to the “UMass Black Pioneers Survey.” In addition to the questionnaire, participants were able to send in physical materials, or upload digital content, such as resumes, or videos of their responses, and the collection contains a few of these. Several participants willing to be interviewed were also connected with UMass Public History graduate students for oral histories in the Fall 2018 semester. These videos are a part of the record group, and there are plans to conduct additional interviews.
Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries