After over 15 months of organizing, mobilizing, and negotiations, the Black Student Union at UC Berkeley–in assistance with the African Black Coalition–, has reached an agreement with Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to secure a building and funding to serve as the long awaited “Fannie Lou Hamer Resource Center.”
The Fannie Lou Hamer Resource Center is the result of a series of demands that were issued to the campus by the Black Student Union in March 2015.
The first demand called for the “creation of an African-American Student Development Resource Center, to be named the Fannie Lou Hamer Resource Center, with a designated office space as well as space for hosting events, at a central campus location.”
Black Student Union Chair Elias Hinit and Chancellor Nicholas Dirks signed the agreement July 19.
Under the terms of the agreement, the resource center will be located in the Hearst Annex Building, rooms D3, D4, and D5 for the next five years and that the chancellor will allocate $82,885 to refurbish the building and purchase necessary equipment.
The Fannie Lou Hamer Resource Center will remain in the Hearst Annex for five years. If the campus does not identify a permanent space for the center by then, the agreement stipulates that the center will remain in the Hearst Annex for an additional five years.
The Fannie Lou Hamer Center will be open to the public in early September 2016.
Gabrielle Shuman, 2014-2015 chairwoman of the Black Student Union, discussed the historic nature of victory.
“Make no mistake; this center was not an easy win by any means,” she said. “Black students and staff have been fighting battles for a space like this for decades. We sacrificed a great deal of time, sleep, studying, and even class attendance to make sure we could catch every calculated curveball thrown at us during this process.”
The chancellor is considering the Black Student Union’s budget proposal for the center, which calls for an allocation of $547,500 to be used for five full time staff members, 15 part-time student staff, and programming and equipment needs. The Chancellor has stated that he will consider this budget proposal. The 2016-2017 Black Student Union leadership will be following up on this matter once the fall semester begins.
“Our vision has always been that the Fannie Lou Hamer Resource Center will serve as the central organizing and galvanizing space to meet the academic, social, cultural, and political needs of the Black community,” according the Black Student Union’s press release.
“We hope that the Center will help sustain the Black community and produce brilliant leaders such as that of its namesake, Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer; the kind of leaders who are determined, fearless, and resolute in the struggle for Black liberation.”