Inspired by an era of campus activism in the late 1960s, Black Student Union Members first proposed the idea of a Black Cultural Center in 1971, but was met with resistance. However, key Black Student Union Members continued to push the idea and it began to gain momentum in 1981.
Twelve years later from the initial proposal, under the leadership of the Black Studies Program, President Robert Dickeson, and the Black Student Union of 1983, the Center opened its doors on February 1st, 1983 in conjunction with Black History Awareness Month. The Center was subsequently named the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center.
President Robert Dickenson, BSU President Neil Williams, Ex-BSU President Richard Kynard, Black Studies Department Chairman Robert Dillingham, BSU Vice President Darryl Miller, and Co-founder of the Black Panther Party Bobby Seale were the individuals present to share their remarks to the audience during the dedication ceremony:
- President Dickenson shared that this was an idea the University had been thinking about and was pleased to have the dedication. He also mentioned that the Center would provide an important additional item for the recruitment of minorities.
- Neil Williams shared that his primary hope for the center was that it might improve the quality of campus life for African-American students.
- Richard Kynard shared that it had been a long hard road and it had took 12 years for their (Black Student Union) dream to come true.
- In Robert Dillingham’s speech titled, “The Legacy of Marcus Garvey”, he expressed that Garvey was a misunderstood activist who tried to better the lot of Black people in the U.S. He then quoted Garvey as saying “Men who are earnest are not afraid of consequences”.
- Darryl Miller stated that there would be no Black Studies Department or Marcus Garvey Cultural Center if there were not an active Black support network on campus.
- Bobby Seale concluded the ceremony by talking about Marcus Garvey and his role in representing "black people's historic resistance to racist oppression" and the importance of centers like the newly established one named in Garvey's honor.
The Marcus Garvey Cultural Center is the first Black Cultural Center established on a university campus in the State of Colorado because of the determination of the community and a host of others.
"UNC made history that still stands to this day, but it did not happen without struggle, issues and challenges." - Neil William, BA- 83