Forty Years of Fortitude: The Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association
In 1971, student members of Dartmouth's Afro-American Society wrote letters to alumni to express a desire to strengthen the College's support of the black community. The students’ areas of concern included student life, faculty recruitment, admissions policies, and career counseling.
Alumni responded. That fall about fifteen of them met at the Dartmouth Club of New York in the Commodore Hotel to listen to the students’ concerns. Word spread to alumni through regional meetings in Boston and Washington, D.C. Then in May of 1972, with the support of president John Kemeny, about 50 alumni and their families gathered for a Conference of Black Alumni on campus. One result was the formation of the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association, or BADA.
Members of BADA at a 2010 gathering at Dartmouth
“I’m very proud of what we did,” says Garvey Clarke ’57, who chaired the Alumni Steering Committee at the 1972 conference. “It was all very official—we had four workshops and we made sure everything was written down. In the area of alumni relations, the whole question was do we want to get involved and work with the College in an official capacity, and the vote was a strong yes." Thus BADA, which Clarke says may have been the first black alumni group in the Ivy League, was born. Clarke says that there was now an organized way "for Dartmouth to become involved with its black alumni."
Clarke says that the energy and meetings that led up to the 1972 conference were about more than BADA. "It was about getting involved as Dartmouth alumni by joining your local alumni club, and admissions recruiting, and class activities, and the Alumni Council. Many of our recommendations from the conference were accepted by Dartmouth—for instance, a black trustee was appointed in 1973—Harcourt Dodds ’58."
Garvey Clarke '57, one of the early founders of BADA (photo from 1957 Aegis)
Now at 3,187 members, BADA continues to support students through a range of online and person-to-person networking opportunities. Former BADA president Tracey Salmon-Smith ’87 says, “BADA is most important to me because of the friendships I have developed over the years. Throughout law school and my career as an attorney, I have had the invaluable support of fellow BADA members along the way.”
View these four photos to hear what alumni have to say about the importance of BADA today.
Tracey Salmon-Smith '87, president of BADA from 1997–2000
BADA celebrates its 40th anniversary October 25–28 during 2012 Dartmouth Night and Homecoming. Speakers include Dartmouth trustees Annette Gordon-Reed '81 and Ben Wilson '73, president Carol Folt '78a, and the Rev. Adrienne Lotson ’82. A slideshow at the Hood Museum of Art and a rededication of Cutter-Shabazz Hall are among the planned activities.
Past presidents of BADA:
Hon. Fritz W. Alexander II ’47
Keith M. Jackson ’70
Stuart O Simms ’72
Cruz C. Russell ’75
Garvey E. Clarke ’57
Gary L. Love ’76
Karen M. Turner ’76
Craig R Triplett ’76
Morris C. “Rocky” Whitaker ’74
Tracey Salmon-Smith ’87
Todd L. Cranford ’85
Ricki Fairley-Brown ’78
Ellis Rowe ’74
By Steve Smith