Students, faculty, and visitors gathered to the north side of campus on Halsted St. for the grand re-opening of the CSUN Black House. Visitors gathered at the cream-colored house before the event began at 4 p.m. to talk among themselves, take photos and have refreshments.
“This is a remarkable moment in time at Cal State University, Northridge,” said Dr. William Watkins, Vice President of Student Affairs, to the crowd at the start of the event. “When we opened the last Black House, the diversity was not what I’m seeing here today. Either by virtue of ethnic group, level of position or relationship to the campus. We have faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community all here celebrating the reopening of the black house.”
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, more than 50 attendees walked through the doors of the new facility to explore the artwork displayed throughout the house and the rooms available to students and organizations on campus. The visitors were treated with food such as finger foods like dumplings, mini burgers and chicken croissants. In addition, the beverages offered were water and apple cider.
As more people arrived at the event, the house became more crowded as people could barely move around through the facility. More than 70 attendees walked throughout the house, exploring the rooms, conversing with others and looking at the art posted on the walls.
“I think it’s pretty badass because you don’t see things like this all the time,” said Morgan Cognata, 18, Anthropology major. “I really enjoyed the picture that said ‘White Supremacy hates me’ and it’s made of hair.”
Inside, people explored the main room for hangouts, a reservation room for meetings, a study room for groups, a computer lab, a kitchen, a screening room that will serve as a study room when not in use, a library filled with books from the Africana Studies department, as well as material from disciplines throughout the campus, the Black House coordinator’s office and the Black Student Union (BSU) executive headquarters.
After the walkthrough, the attendees listened to speeches that discussed the Black House Legacy and a toast to the reopening. Africana Studies professor Dr. David Horne explained the history of the Black House and the challenges that needed to be faced. In the main room in 1997, students chose Dr. Horne to be the chair of the Black House.
“This has been a place that has been a refuge, a room for discussion and engagement,” said Horne. “We have never seen this house look this good in its history. Never. Not even close.”
During the spring of 1992, African-American students at CSUN, led by the BSU, protested the various forms of racism that existed on campus. According to the Department of Africana website, after the demand issued by the BSU were met, a facility of approximately 3,000 square feet was granted jointly to the BSU and the Pan African Studies Department. The Black House was closed in 2015 for renovation and had a soft opening in May, said Africana Studies department chair Theresa White.
“I’m incredibly excited, I think this is a momentous occasion,” said White. “We’ve been working quite a long time to bring this together. It’s a center for black culture and academic enrichment. It’s a place for students to have a home away from home to come and study and just be at peace with themselves.”