History of Colgate's ALANA Cultural Center Skip Navigation

The History of the ALANA Cultural Center

The Africana, Latin, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center has its roots in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

It was during that movement that our campus witnessed a 70-hour occupation of Merrill House and its faculty club as students of color pushed for equal rights and the formation of the Alumni of Color Association.


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1969

  • Association of Black Collegians (ABC) holds sit-in at Sigma Nu
  • ABC holds 100-hour sit-in at Office of Admission
  • ABC holds 70-hour sit-in at Merrill House, claiming the building as a campus cultural center, as the university would not create a distinct center. Their persistence led to former Buildings and Grounds building being designated as a cultural center in 1970.

1970

  • A cultural center is opened on the site of the former maintenance building with the stated mission "to develop educational programs and resources which demonstrate the contribution of ethnic groups for the benefit of Colgate students, faculty, staff, residents of Hamilton and other educational and urban institutions."

1980

  • The cultural center is fully refurbished and Mae Gwendolyn Henderson is named its first director

1985

  • The Minority Affairs Committee -- a committee composed of students, faculty, and administrators -- begin developing plans for a new cultural center.

1986

  • Then-director Verna Cole helps organize a reunion for alumni of color in New York City, an event which led to the creation of a formal alumni association.
  • Dean of the College William Moynihan begins talking about the construction of a new cultural center to "promote cross-cultural understanding."

1987

  • Director Eleni Tedla, named in winter of that year, felt the center had "great potential to be turned into a learning center for various cultures" while "meeting the needs of students of color. You can't empathize with people of color if you don't know their situation."

1989

  • On April 22, 1989, alumni and students of color gather together to rededicate the cultural center to its original purpose. Then-President George Langdon calls it “a commitment to diversity.”
  • A plaque dated 4/22/89 reads, "Dedicated to those brothers whose vision, determination and sacrifice to the ideals of cultural and ethnic diversity provided the foundation for the Cultural Center's reality." Another plaque quotes from Adam Clayton Powell's "One Day" speech: "One day the United States of America, with its bleeding wounds of race hatred, will be cleansed by the glorious healing power of God's love."

1996

  • Renamed ALANA Cultural Center

1997

  • "I want the center to be a place where everyone gets an opportunity to grow," says Dolores Walters, who became director in 1997.

2007

  • The ALANA Cultural Center names new director, Thomas Cruz-Soto.
  • Today, the ALANA Cultural Center occupies its own building, a sweeping edifice that is home to 12 student organizations and includes a kitchen, music room, seminar room, library, and multipurpose room. ALANA serves as a learning center and focal point where students, faculty and staff gather to understand the Africana, Latin American, Asian American and Native American cultures, struggles and accomplishments.