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George Vlahakis

Michael Wilkerson

Last modified: Friday, June 14, 2002

Award-winning exhibit, "Black Experience at IU," on display at IU Bloomington

An award-winning exhibit, "Black Experience at IU: 1816-2002," is on display in the East Lounge of the Indiana Memorial Union at Indiana University Bloomington until July 25.

The exhibit, created in conjunction with the opening of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center at IU, depicts in photographs, texts and reproductions of original news clippings and university documents the odyssey of African Americans at IU from the founding of the university.

In IU's early years, blacks were not permitted to enroll. They were prohibited by the state constitution from attending any public institution of learning. Many barriers were broken after the Civil War, leading to the enrollment of several African Americans and the graduations of Marcellus Neal and Frances Eagleson Marshall, for whom the Neal-Marshall Center is named.

The exhibit's timeline continues through the first protests at IU in 1925, the integration of facilities and athletic teams in the 1940s, and the election of IU's and the Big Ten's first black student body president in 1960. It presents the stormy years of the late 1960s, out of which grew the Black Student Union, the Afro-American Studies program and the establishment of high-level administrative posts dedicated to diversity.

The exhibit will receive a silver medal from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) at the organization's annual international conference in July. It was produced by the Office of the Vice President for Student Development and Diversity and the IU Office of Publications, with assistance from researchers Betty Bridgwaters and Joseph Russell, former IU dean of Afro-American Affairs.

"This is a very comprehensive look at all kinds of accomplishments that blacks have achieved at IU," said Charlie Nelms, IU vice president for student development and diversity. "The photos, text and documents are moving and tell a powerful story that continues to be exciting to this day."

The exhibit is divided into six areas: academics, athletics, students, activism, change agents, and culture and the creative and performing arts. Each area has its own kiosk, and highlights of each are collected in the master timeline.

"Everyone who has an interest in Indiana University and its place in the city and state should see this exhibit," Nelms said.

The exhibit, which was unveiled at the Neal-Marshall Center dedication, is expected to travel to other cities in Indiana during the next academic year.