The Black Presence at William and Mary, 1985

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The Black Presence at William and Mary, 1985


“Indeed, the sense of history and tradition, which is so alive at the College, sometimes excludes black students, who comprise about 4 percent of the total student population.”

When black students were finally admitted to the College on a regular basis, students had to confront a predominately white community. Since the 1970s, black students and faculty have successfully created communities for socializing, sharing culture, and supporting one another during school and after graduation.

In 1975, Ebony Expressions was created as a gospel group and remains an active music and prayer community still today. The late 70s and 80s saw the incorporation of many black sororities and fraternities which created a lifelong support network for its members. These Greek organizations include the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Alpha Kappa Sorority, and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Additionally, the Black Student Organization has also helped to serve the role of a support network for social and academic needs, emblematic of black students’ sustained resilience and fight for agency in education and freedom of expression.

Black support networks were vital to undergrad, grad, and law school students. Sharon Coles ’75 JD, helped to organize the Black American Law Students Association, and used her position on the Board of Visitors in the mid ‘80s to advocate for minority students and faculty.


Swem Special Collections




Anonymous William and Mary Students, description
Ari Weinberg, metadata




“The Black Presence at William and Mary, 1985,” The Lemon Project, accessed June 14, 2021,

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