African American Students at the University of Virginia, circa 1970s; Photo Courtesy of Special Collections Library, UVA

Early in the summer of 2006, my former Woodson Institute colleague Corey D.B. Walker, who now serves as chair of the Africana Studies Department at Brown University, gave me a copy of “An Audacious Faith,” a 1987 report that extensively documented and critically examined the state of African American affairs at the University of Virginia.  Some of the topics covered in the nearly 300-page report  included black student retention, minority faculty recruitment, the overrepresentation of African Americans in low-wage service positions, and the state of the African American and African Studies program.  The genesis of the report dates back to 1984, when the University embarked on an extensive self-study evaluation as part of its preparation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ decennial reaccreditation process.  In its fourteen-volume report, the Self-Study Steering Committee concluded that “no large, consciously articulated, University-wide intention binds the school together in a united commitment to achieve full intellectual and social integration.”  This claim resulted in President Robert M. O’Neil creating a Task Force on Afro-American Affairs to “study our present situation, and to define an appropriate policy aimed at achieving full and genuine integration at the University.”  The findings and recommendations of the impaneled Task Force, which consisted of faculty, administrators, and students, were released in the report, “An Audacious Faith,” which was published in June, 1987 and can be found in the Black Student Alliance section of the website.