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The Black Student-Athletes of Carleton

“Every athlete knows what it’s like to be tired. To come up from the water breathless, to arise from a tackle winded, or to finish the last stride across the finish line. However, that chance to breathe is not made available for black people across this country. We are tired of colorism. We are tired of racial profiling. We are tired of having to tiptoe around the law because of centuries-old connotations when it comes to our skin color.”  

-BSAC

The Black Student-Athletes of Carleton is a group that strives to provide a safe space for fellow Black athletes. The group’s creation followed the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the impact of this tumultuous time stretched from the Black community to the few Black students at Carleton. During that summer of 2020, we came together to officially create the BSAC. We then began our partnership with Carleton’s athletic department to highlight the lack of Black athletes and started laying the groundwork for the organization and the plan for the Fall Term of the 2021-2022 school year.

This led to our march in Northfield in Fall 2020, titled “No Mo’ in NoFo,” which raised awareness against police brutality and institutional racism. This act of protest gained the support of over 1,000 students, faculty and administrators. BSAC is continuing to work with the Athletics department to help diversify the athletic staff and athletes. Carleton has recently hired volleyball’s first-ever Black head coach, but we know the achievements should not stop there. We will continue to push for an increase in Black coaches, and some of our other goals are to have teams frequent Black-owned businesses (particularly restaurants while traveling) and to consistently have connections with Carleton alumni. The BSAC board will continue to push for these goals to become a reality.

Carleton is a predominately white institution with the number of Black students slim and the number of Black student-athletes even slimmer. We know colleges that hold themselves to a high bar such as Carleton are capable of attracting Black students, and we are confident that through a collaboration with the college and BSAC, we can cultivate a brighter future for Black student-athletes that will endure after the current board/student’s time at Carleton College. 

We’re looking forward to what the Black Students-Athletes of Carleton can and will accomplish.

One Comment

  1. Warren Simpson Warren Simpson April 20, 2022

    Dear James Marlin,

    Thank you for sharing this information with all of us and having the courage to take action.

    I am an African-American alum of Carleton (Class of 1970). Like you, I am well acquainted with the rigors of being a student-athlete, having lettered in basketball three years and football my junior year. In 1966 and 1967, there were three Black players on the team and the starting quarterback was African-American. I was the only Black player on the basketball team until my senior year. The one year I played football, there were also three of us. Similar statistics existed at the other colleges in our conference (then, the Associated Colleges of the Midwest).

    I was part of the first wave of Black students to attend Carleton in any significant number. When we arrived in the mid-late sixties, there were about 15 Black students in my class, bringing the school total to around 25 (St. Olaf had six). By the fall of 1970, our number had increased to around 90, give or take. Like yourself, the Black students at Carleton were very active during that time in attempting to address the racial climate on campus and advocated for more Black students and resources. For the most part, the administration supported many of our efforts. I was involved with other Black students in the formation of S.O.U.L. (“Students Organized for Unity and Liberation”), which still exists at Carleton. It was the successor to the “Negro Affairs Committee”. A group of White students formed the “White Affairs Committee” to support our efforts.

    The late sixties were truly a time of awareness, socially and politically. Social norms were changing, a war was going on, leaders were being assassinated, and the Civil Rights movement was going full stream. “Negroes” were no longer being referred to as such, but rather as Black people or African-Americans. It was an interesting time, with a significant percentage of Carls involved in some type of activity regardless of their political affiliation or their liberal or conservative views.

    Anyway, just wanted to send you and the other Black athletes on campus a message of support.

    I hope this message reaches you.

    Best Regards.

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