SUNY Oneonta's Center for Racial Justice and Inclusive Excellence (CRJIE) Advisory Committee has organized a series of activities throughout the fall semester commemorating the 30th anniversary of The Black List.
On Sept. 4, 1992, a woman in Oneonta, NY, reported an attack and attempted rape by a man she described as having a dark complexion and a cut on his hand. As part of their investigation, police requested, and a SUNY Oneonta administrator provided, the names and residences of the college's Black male students. Police used this list to track down the students, questioning them and demanding to see their hands. In addition, Black men, and at least one Black woman, in the City of Oneonta were questioned. The perpetrator was never found. The incident led to a class-action lawsuit and a significant court case, bringing national media attention to Oneonta and provoking outrage about the issue of racism in law enforcement. The court case prompted changes to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policies, creating a lasting impact on higher education nationwide.
"When we recognize the events of September 4, 1992, it serves as a reminder of how we must sustain an unwavering pledge to be an equitable and inclusive campus, and to our commitment to delivering an education that will prevent all future events that threaten a human's dignity," said SUNY Oneonta President Alberto JF Cardelle. "We continue to look toward the future, as there is still much work to be done."
"The fallout of The Black List was, and is still, hurtful," said Dr. Bernadette Tiapo, SUNY Oneonta’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. "The commemoration is a reminder of the impact of such events on our communities and the importance of continued learning and education. Successive administrations at the college have taken the lessons from this experience seriously, by fostering an institutional commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on our campus. Some of the major strides made by the college are highlighted at the 30th Anniversary commemoration. Nonetheless, there is the recognition that this is work in progress. We are determined to continue to work to foster an inclusive community on campus where all differences are recognized, respected, and more importantly, valued. This is a purposeful commitment on our part."
The kickoff, "Remembering The Black List and Moving Forward," was held Wednesday, Sept. 7. The day-long commemoration featured a variety of events, including:
- A series of teach-outs and teach-ins hosted by SUNY Oneonta faculty;
- The official opening of the Center for Racial Justice and Inclusive Excellence (CRJIE) in Lee Hall;
- The unveiling of the CRJIE's student-designed logo;
- Tours of the CRJIE’s spaces, including a dedication of its Freedom Room;
- A screening of "The Brothers of the Black List" documentary, followed by a discussion with seven 1992 alumni who were affected; and
- The opening of a "Remembering the Black List/Moving Forward" Exhibit.
Curated by Distinguished Professor of Museum Studies Gretchen Sorin, with support from SUNY Oneonta alumnus Sean Gallagher and other members of the CRJIE Advisory Committee, the “Remembering the Black List/Moving Forward" Exhibit has two components. One chronicles the events that occurred on and after Sept. 4, 1992, and another shows the progression of the college’s efforts to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion from 1992 to today. The timeline will include an interactive element.
Additional events will be held throughout the fall semester, including a talk by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and civil rights activist Nikole Hannah-Jones on Nov. 3 at the college’s Alumni Field House.
For more information on the "Remembering The Black List and Moving Forward" events, visit the college’s events calendar.