Looking Back: Perspectives on Progress and Challenges
Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran (PO '69) looked back on the Black Studies Center (BSC) in her 1989 speech entitled "How It Began" and in her 2019 oral history interview with Elizabeth Carleton, featured below. Eileen was a BSU leader and student activist who went on to become a current Pomona College trustree as of 2019. She provided insight into the BSC's history and legacy.
In this excerpt from a 1989 speech to the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies, Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran reflected back on her participation in the struggle to create the Black Studies Center (BSC) at the Claremont Colleges. The idea for the center began in 1965, with the consortium's few Black students gathering to discuss current issues. Faculty, BSU members, United Mexican-American Students (UMAS) members, and some white students formed an activist coalition to protest, lobby, and negotiate for the foundation of the Center. By March of 1969, the beginnings of the BSC were underway and BSU members were cautiously optimistic about its future.
As part of the Taking Root project, Elizabeth Carleton interviewed Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran in 2019 about her involvement in student activism and the creation of the Black Student Union. Eileen provided her memories and perspective on the events of the 1960s, and shared insights from her career as an academic and college administrator. This oral history resource is an important addition to the Claremont Colleges' records of the Black Studies Center and the people who worked hard to bring minority studies to Claremont.