African American's Role Today
Cornell continues its tradition of nurturing African-American culture today in a number of ways. There are a variety of organizations on campus and in the surrounding area which provide both African-Americans with a group-oriented support network and also provide members of all races with information and elevated understanding and familiarity with African-American heritage. One such organization is the Black Awareness Cultural Organization, or BACO, whose aim has been to promote awareness and support for African-Americans by a variety of means since the late sixties. Being open to students of all races, BACO forges new and stronger bonds between its members and all who attend group-sponsored events, as well as creating a welcoming atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect. Other groups on Cornell’s campus whose goal to promote intercultural understanding and supports include Sister 4 Sister, Eyes of the World, and Cultural Understanding and Exploration, just to name a few.
BACO’s ideology of mutual support and empowerment is, of course, not unique to Cornell; national organizations such as the NAACP are, as they always have been, leaders in the campaign for equality, understanding, and tolerance. By organizing boycotts, protests and petitions, as well as staging demonstrations and pursuing political initiatives by conducting voter registration campaigns the NAACP remains solidly a driving force in the struggle toward a more enlightened and tolerant future.
Aiding in that struggle in their own ways are a number of outspoken, influential individuals. The Reverend Jesse Jackson was a very vocal and public figure during the Civil Rights Era, and continues to fight for equality and fairness in a variety of ways. With a diverse and extensive base of supporters, Reverend Jackson remains a quintessential figure for the cause. With an arguably more diverse and extensive support base, Oprah Winfrey is another individual making headway into a brighter future. To many thousands of people from all walks of life, Oprah’s word is law; any favorable comment by her about your book, program or product immediately results in revenue, while an unfavorable review can be devastating. In 1998, an indirect comment made by Oprah on her show during a conversation about the threat of mad cow disease prompted a considerable lawsuit when a group of Texan cattlemen suffered losses of millions of dollars because of it. Her influence is by no means limited to the economy, either; through her extensive missionary/charity throughout the United States and Africa, Oprah has become one of the most powerful instigators of positive change in the world.
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Website Launched Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Created by Chris Petersen, Colleen Smith, and Lindsay Wieland
With special thanks to Susan Kuecker and the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa