The Organization of African and Afro-American Students at American University

The Organization of African and Afro-American Students at American University (OASATAU) formed in 1967 to improve the climate of AU for Black students. OASATAU’s initial efforts focused on “curriculum reform, more and better Black representation in social and political activities on and off campus, cultural awareness, Black consciousness, and pride in Black heritage.”

OASTATAU pushed for the creation of an interdisciplinary Black Studies program and the recruitment of more Black students and faculty. OASATAU partnered with the admissions office to recruit students. The initial focus was on D.C. but was expanded to include other cities on the East Coast. OASATAU organized a tutoring program for Black students at AU, several community programs, and a variety of social activities including concerts and dances.

OASATAU’s newspaper, UHURU, ran as a separate paper from 1971 until 1983 when it became a section of The Eagle. In 1996, it was replaced by Mosaic, AU’s multicultural student newspaper. OASATAU also hosted a program of Black music, news and current events on WAMU-AM.

UHURU, February 3, 1975

UHURU, February 3, 1975

In response to the changing needs of Black students on campus, OASATAU revised its constitution and changed its name to the Black Student Alliance (BSA) in 1988. BSA called its main governing body, the general assembly. It consisted of 18 representatives from the African Student Association, the Caribbean Student Association, the AU Gospel Choir, the campus chapter of the NAACP, Greek organizations, graduate students, commuter students, Washington Semester students, dorm residents, UHURU and a parliamentarian.