College isn’t just about academics; it's a transformative journey that involves personal growth, networking, and community engagement. For many Black students, finding a supportive and culturally enriching environment within the vast college landscape is crucial. Fortunately, colleges across the country offer a plethora of extracurricular activities and campus organizations tailored to the diverse interests and aspirations of Black students and allies. Here are just a few examples of amazing groups to look for during your college search or at your current school.
Black Student Union (BSU)
The Black Student Union is a vital hub for fostering a sense of community and activism at thousands of colleges (and even some high schools) across the country. First established in the 1960s as a way for students to protest racial discrimination, this organization focuses on advocating for the needs and concerns of Black students on campus while addressing issues such as diversity, equity, and inclusion. BSUs organize campus events that celebrate Black history, provide mentorship programs, promote volunteerism, and engage in social justice initiatives. You’ll find chapters at almost every college in the US, including:
- Boston University (whose group is called UMOJA, meaning “unity” in Swahili)
- Brown University
- College of the Holy Cross
- Elon University
- Seattle University
- And too many more to list!
African Student Association (ASA)
Another prominent and unifying extracurricular group you’ll find on many college campuses is the African Student Association, an organization that celebrates the rich and varied cultures of the African continent. Through events, performances, and cultural exchanges, the ASA provides a space for all students to connect, share experiences, learn from their peers, and promote understanding.
The National African Student Association offers a performance-based scholarship of $7,000 or more to students serving on its National Executive Board, but you’ll also find ASA chapters at schools like Georgia State University, Agnes Scott College, and more. Similar groups such as the African Student Union at Michigan State University serve as a community for African students as well as others who are committed to learning about, promoting, and uplifting African culture.
Professional development and leadership organizations
Many colleges have established organizations specifically designed to empower Black students in their professional journeys. These groups focus on career development, mentorship, networking opportunities, and scholarships for members. Just a few examples include:
- National Society of Black Engineers
- National Black Law Students Association
- National Society of Black Accountants
- National Association of Black Journalists
Look for chapters of these groups and more at your college(s), then research how you can become a member before or after graduation. Beyond national associations, you’ll also find smaller groups for professional development and leadership in different fields of study, like the Black Business Students Association at Columbia University or the Multicultural Student Nurses Association at the University of Delaware.
Cultural and artistic groups
For those with a passion for arts and culture, colleges offer a variety of dance, music, art, and heritage groups that celebrate Black and African cultures while highlighting students’ creativity, talents, and backgrounds. From dance troupes and spoken word poetry clubs to arts coalitions and ancestry organizations, these groups provide a platform for self-expression and cultural exploration. Great examples include:
- DoroBucci Dance, a premier African dance group at Princeton University with showcases like Black Renaissance Weekend
- Tiger Steel, Ouachita Baptist University's Advanced Steel Drum Ensemble that performs calypso and soca music from the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago
- The University of Georgia's Black Artists Alliance, a space that offers support, exhibits, and community for Black student artists at UGA
- The Ohio State University’s Caribbean Student Association, a group that celebrates and shares island cuisine, study abroad opportunities, music, and more with the campus and local community
Athletic activities and networks
Sports have always been a powerful avenue for camaraderie and teamwork in student-athletes. Many organizations host affinity groups and events that foster a sense of belonging, support, and empowerment among Black athletes in particular. Schools like The George Washington University offer the Black Student-Athlete Alliance, a group led by students to uplift Black voices in the athletic community. Similarly, the Black Student Athlete Group at Vanderbilt University works to celebrate, support, and educate the student body with a focus on athletic activism, social justice, and other issues affecting Black student-athletes. On the national level, conferences like the Black Student Athlete Summit offer opportunities for student-athletes of all types to network and prepare to compete in the postgrad workforce.
Groups for intersectional identities
Many college extracurricular groups go beyond racial identity by recognizing and embracing students’ intersectional identities, including gender, sexuality, religion, and more. These types of groups create spaces where individuals can explore the unique intersections of their Black identity with other aspects of their lives, fostering a sense of belonging and understanding. Groups like Sisters United at Boston University, Queer and Trans People of Color at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Black Campus Ministries contribute to a more inclusive college environment that encourages holistic self-expression and collaboration among students of various backgrounds.
The diverse extracurricular landscape at so many institutions is a testament to the commitment of campus communities to foster inclusivity and celebrate diversity. These options not only provide avenues for personal and professional growth but also create spaces where Black students and supporters can connect, share experiences, and thrive. There are so many other great groups, networks, councils, associations, and clubs available beyond this. As colleges continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion, this expanding array of extracurricular activities ensures that every student can find their niche and make the most of their college experience.
Interested in learning more about the featured schools mentioned in this article? Click the buttons below to request more information and start a conversation!