Two events will honor Africana Center’s history Homecoming Weekend

WHAT:          Screening of Willard Straight Hall takeover documentary and dedication ceremony to honor Africana Center’s history during Homecoming Weekend

WHEN:          Sept. 23 at 2:30 p.m., Sept. 24 at 11 a.m.

WHERE:        Willard Straight Theater (Sept. 23), 320 Wait Ave. (Sept. 24)

MEDIA:         The event is free and open to the public. Media members are asked to RSVP to Daryl Lovell in Cornell’s Media Relations Office at 607-254-4799 or


ITHACA, N.Y. – Nearly half a century ago, student protests led to the creation of Cornell’s Africana Studies and Research Center. Since then, the Africana Center has trained generations of leaders in academia, the professions, business and public service.

This fall during Homecoming Weekend, Cornell will sponsor a series of commemorative events culminating in the dedication of the site of the original Africana building at 320 Wait Ave., which was destroyed by arson April 1, 1970. The events are free, and the public is invited.

September 23: “Agents of Change” documentary screening, Willard Straight Theater

On Friday, Sept. 23, at 2:30 p.m., the Africana commemoration will kick off with a multigenerational panel discussion featuring alumni, faculty and students that will place the Willard Straight Hall takeover in the context of black student activism at Cornell and nationwide. The event will also feature a screening of the new hour-long documentary “Agents of Change,” produced by Cornell alumni Abby Ginzberg ’71 and Frank Dawson ’72. The film documents the 1969 events at Cornell and events at San Francisco State in 1968. The panel and screening will be held at the Willard Straight Theater and will be introduced by Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences.

September 24: Dedication of the site of the original Africana building, 320 Wait Ave.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, the dedication ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at 320 Wait Ave. The establishment of the site was requested by Black Students United in their November 2015 letter to President Elizabeth Garrett and Vice President Ryan Lombardi. The site will include a bench, landscaping and plaque bearing an image of the original Africana Center building.

The dedication ceremony will include performances by student groups; remarks by student, faculty and alumni speakers; and remarks by Rev. Kenneth Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Work. A photographic exhibition, “Black Life on the Hill, 1966-1970,” with photographs by Fenton Sands, ’70, will be on display at the Africana Studies & Research Center during the month of September.

Sponsors for the events include the Office of the President, Division of Student and Campus Life, College of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies and Research Center, Black Students United, Alumni Affairs and Development, and the Division of University Relations.


Daryl Lovell
office: 607-254-4799
cell: 607-592-3925


Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews. For more information on the events, see this Cornell Chronicle story.