In November, 1967, in response to a presentation by Henry Austin who was the Public Relations Director of the Deacons for Defense and Justice, African American students at Kent State University organized themselves into a new student organization called Black United Students [BUS] during the winter quarter of 1968.
By the spring of 1968, BUS initiated protests and demonstrations "designed to sensitize the university community to the 'dead seriousness' of the Black United Students to bring about needed sensitivity and changes."
Their efforts culminated that November when BUS protested and staged a Mass Walkout to Akron to demonstrate against the presence of recruiters for the Oakland, California police force on campus.
This activism finally resulted in the creation of the Institute for African American Affairs [IAAA] in 1969, the Center of Pan-African Culture [CPAC] in 1970, and finally, the Department of Africana Studies [DAFS] in 1976 under the direction of program founder Dr. Edward W. Crosby.
The Center of Pan-African Culture is the programming arm of the Department of Africana Studies, and exists to promote the cultural traditions of African peoples as well as peoples of African descent living in the global African Diaspora.
The original location of CPAC was the Ward House, which stood where the current Business Administration Building is located. In 1971 the Center was moved to the second floor of Rockwell Hall, which now houses the School of Fashion Design. It was moved to the ground floor of its present location, formerly the Old Student Union, in 1972.
This building was renamed and dedicated in 1977 to the late Dr. Oscar W. Ritchie who was hired in 1947 becoming the first African American faculty member at KSU.
Facilities were expanded in 1981 when the African Community Theatre [ACT] moved to the first floor of Franklin Hall, and again in 1988 when PAS received control of the third floor of Oscar Ritchie Hall. The third floor was dedicated to the late Queen Mother Audley Moore in 1991.
Impact on Student Life
As of 1997, the entire building has come under the control of the Department including the relocation of ACT onto Ritchie Hall's second floor. The unique physical plant of CPAC is suitable for a wide variety of academic, professional and cultural programming.
We believe the Center of Pan-African Culture is the premier university-based Black Cultural Center in the nation. The primary mission of our program has always been, and will continue to be, the personal and intellectual development of its students. Indeed, in the words of Dr. Crosby:
"Students have inspired and supported us in the continuing development of our African-centered discipline and holistic pedagogy. The department informs students of their need to address the development of themselves, their institutions and their communities. The time they spend at Kent is preparatory to meeting this social responsibility."
Ultimately, students are encouraged to use their intellectual skills to bring about better organization and development, not only within the African American community at home but within the global Pan-African community abroad.