This week I looked through documents in the Octagon mural with Matt. We found a ton of interesting documents about the Afro- American Society/ Black Student Union. There are also loads of documents left to sort through.
I was able to find correspondence between Dean Jean Moss, The Office of the Dean of Students and The Black Student Union from 1988. There was discussion about the renovation of the Octagon, which included purchasing of equipment and the refurbishment of existing materials. From the letters I have read, Dean Moss appears to be the channel through which the students of the BSU connected with the administration. There is a letter for Dean Moss from June 9, 1988, where she shows support of the renovations and also emphasizes the lack of investment from the school for the center. She writes, “Indeed, if the students maintain their exemplary maintenance record, the college can enjoy another long period of low investment with high returns.”
Some of the requests include Security and Fire Protection, window replacement, adequate storage space, painted walls, carpeting, couches, chairs, wall outlets, a television, VCR, and a camera. I have actually have images of the furniture that was ordered, along with cost estimates. What I thought was funny was that Request #10 calls for the heating of the Octagon to be fixed. The students from 1988 state: “Currently during presentations, discussions, and other events the excessive noise from the heating pipes becomes disruptive. In order to make the GPCC more functional as a cultural center where presentations and other events take place we request this problem be corrected.” That request was never addressed since the heating in Octagon continues to rumble to the point where we can barely hear ourselves in meetings. Almost 30 years later, we still have the same issues. I also found the response from Dick Falcon (not sure of this official title) where he agrees to some renovations.
Something funny and interesting also came out of the Octagon images. I work for the MRC and for the last year we have been trying to find information about some artifacts (a shield and spear). I actually located the artifacts on the wall of the Octagon in some photos I found. Not sure of what year they are from but I believe it was 1988. I have contacted Adrianna Turner from the MRC and I am hoping to return those artifacts to the Gerald Penny Center this week.
I was also able to find a videotape of the dedication of the Black Cultural Center to Gerald Penny on October 12, 1974. I will bring the videotape to the Archives on Monday so we can view it. It is a Scotch videotape so the archives should most likely have the technology to view the tape.
The Octagon was dedicated the Black Cultural Center in the spring of 1968. Renovations began in the fall of 1969. I have not been able to find much visual information about the space from 1968-1988 so this upcoming week I hope to fill the twenty-year gap of information I am missing. Hopefully the dedication video will allow me to visually get a sense of the Octagon space in the 1970s.