Alumni Spotlight: Duane Cox, '75, Former BUS President
In the spring of 1968, what had been a resistance movement of Black students at Kent State University officially became a registered university student organization.That organization was named Black United Students, affectionately referred to as “BUS.” It’s still standing and active at Kent State and celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
The Kent State University Black Alumni Chapter and the university celebrated and acknowledge 50 years of hard work, leadership, courage and resilience of BUS during homecoming weekend, Oct. 5-7. Many former BUS executive board members were honored including Duane Cox, '75, a Cleveland native and attorney who served as BUS President in 1972-‘73.
Cox passed on a legacy of service to his son, Matthew, as well. Matthew Cox, '06, also served as BUS president in 2006. The senior Cox shared his memories of BUS service, as well as some advice for today’s Black student leaders, Black Flash.
Black Flash (BF): What was the campus climate and environment like during the years that you served as BUS President?
Duane Cox: Black consciousness was the prevailing thought. Our concern was Black representation in the professor ranks and greater Black student recruitment. The climate at the university was student activism, from opposition to the Vietnam War to social justice for Black Americans.
BF: What were some of the programs that your administration put forward to advance Black student success and progress at Kent?
DC: BUS program success involved fighting for the Institute of African American Affairs and the Center for Pan African Culture being recognized as a college at the university with full accreditation of its degree programs.
BF: What was one of the most memorable achievements or moments of your tenure as BUS president?
DC: We had many memorable achievements. The opening of the IAAA Building (now the Oscar Ritchie Hall) with funding to develop the theater, the building art work, the photography room, and what is now the E. T. Moore Gallery. All this was done under the directions of Dr. Edward Crosby (former chair of the Department of Pan African Studies) and his staff. The most lasting moment was the tutorial and lunch program for children, which was developed by Minister of Education Arthur Thomas, now deceased.
BF: What advice would you offer to today's Black student activists to be successful in today's tense racial and political climate?
DC: My advice for students of the movement is to maintain your consciousness, remember that we are decedents of slaves, and make no alliance with left or right unless it benefits the interest of Black United Students.