The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

All about the Association of Black Collegians

The+Association+of+Black+Collegians+has+provided+spaces+for+Black+students+for+decades.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Lafayette+College+Archives%29+
The Association of Black Collegians has provided spaces for Black students for decades. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College Archives)

In January 1969, Lafayette College approved the first constitution for the Association of Black Collegians – also known as ABC – brought forward by a new group of about 40 Black students, including founding members Lawrence Lennon ’71 and Riley Temple ’71.

Hoping to create a space for Black students to find community in a white-dominated campus, the Association has brought forward a variety of essential spaces, programs and events, such as the first Black cultural center at Lafayette College, the 1971 Black Children Can program and skate nights.

The Association, which recently celebrated its 54th anniversary, is now led by Jermaine Grant ’25 and Shahking Gomez ’25, who are working to continue the legacy of the students who came before them. 

Ariana Welch ’26, the events coordinator of the Association, was immediately interested in joining having been a part of the Black Student Union in her high school. However, it was the community she found that encouraged her to continue with the Association.

“We have discussions about so many different topics from Black women to Black studies … there’s just a whole lot of stuff that we talk about,” Welch said. “Those were really interesting to see how they were run and to see the different minds on campus that I could interact with.”

Welch has been in charge of a variety of events, from the ever-popular skate nights and formals to coming up with her own ideas, such as bringing back the Black arts festival.

“Tradition is important, so different things like skate nights and formals are all events that we want to continue to preserve,” Welch said. “Last spring, I hosted a Black arts talent show in Farinon and that was kind of trying to get back into that.” 

Paris Francis ’26, the current Association of Black Collegians historian, was inspired to take up the role by Grant.

“I think that seeing the work that Jermaine did and just talking about some of the projects that he wanted to do really got me interested in the work that he was doing,” Francis said.

Along with starting her own projects in the archives of Skillman Library, Francis is also continuing the work started by Xavier Walker ’22, who spearheaded the Association of Black Collegians archives project.

“My last semester as historian, I submitted a proposal to the Skillman Library to be a digital scholarship services assistant, so now I’m able to work really closely with the library to update the ABC archives project site and do a bunch of my own passion projects, which is something I really love doing,” Francis said.

After his time as a historian, Grant found that being president might help him further the goal of initiatives like the Black Children Can program, which helps tutor local Black children in Easton.

“I think seeing how big and how impactful the initiatives of ABC pre-2000s was what really made me want to become historian and try to revive a lot of those initiatives,” Grant said. “We have this new initiative coming up where we’re helping some of the students at Moravian Academy with building the foundation for their first-ever Black Student Union.”

Inspired by the work he was able to do through ABC, Grant also hopes to be able to mentor students at Wilson High School in the Easton area.

“I want to create a mentorship program for students in Wilson High School, helping them through the college application process, essays, SATs and things like that,” Grant said. “Even if that means starting that initiative through ABC, I would really love to see that flourish.”

As the Association continues to move forward, Grant and others on the executive board hope to continue to create a welcoming environment for Black students on campus.

“I personally really liked the aspect of, again, meeting people, but in having either our general body meetings or even our executive board meetings, I find [they] don’t feel too academic,” Grant said. “They kind of feel like we’re just having a discussion and really building that camaraderie between one another.”

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Kendal Davis, Staff Culture Writer

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