The Oberlin Alumni Association of African Ancestry (OA4) was approved by the Executive Board in fall 1997 as the Alumni Association’s seventh self-defined group.
It serves to facilitate the relationship between the college and its African ancestry alumni; to increase the visibility of African ancestry persons and concerns in the life of the college; to oversee the John Mercer Langston Fund, the 1835 Fund, and the OA4 Gifts Fund; and to work with the college to increase admission and retention of African ancestry students. A representative serves on the Alumni Council.
The Oberlin Alumni Association of African Ancestry (OA4) Charter
Since its founding in 1833, Oberlin College has been a forerunner in the development of higher education for people of color. As the first college to admit students irrespective of race or color, Oberlin has graduated many notable African Americans. An ex-slave and Oberlin graduate, Blanche Kelso Bruce was the first African American to serve a full six-year term in the United States Senate; the first black woman in the world to receive a college-level degree, Mary Jane Patterson, was an alumna; the first black player in professional baseball, Moses Fleetwood Walker, was an Oberlin alumnus; the first African American female college faculty person, Sarah Woodson Early, was an Oberlin product; and Ohio’s first black lawyer, John Mercer Langston, graduated from Oberlin. Before the Civil War, Oberlin enrolled more black students than any other American college or university. By 1900, Oberlin had produced one-third of all African American college graduates in our nation.
Although the college has established a strong tradition in the education of African Americans, the experiences of many black students have been different from the experiences of their white classmates. These singular experiences affect the degree to which black alumni will contribute—financially and emotionally—to Oberlin College. Recognizing that African American alumni had never widely participated in the overall efforts of the Oberlin Alumni Association, the Black Alumni Committee (Committee) was organized as an “appointed committee” of the Alumni Council in 1987. At the invitation of the president of the college and initiative of the Executive Board, the Committee’s mission has been to increase the participation of African American graduates in alumni activities; it has placed special emphasis on the needs and concerns of currently enrolled and prospective black students.
In 1997, recognizing that a strong ongoing participation from the African American alumni is desired as part of the overall efforts of the Alumni Association, the Oberlin African American Alumni Association (OAAAA) began affiliate status in the Alumni Association and continues to pursue and build on the goals set by the African American Alumni Committee.
Giving voice to the unique experiences of African Americans at Oberlin, the Oberlin African American Alumni Association provides leadership to the Alumni Council and is charged with:
- Ensuring diversity within the Association, by encouraging and soliciting greater African American alumni representation and participation in Alumni Council plans and activities;
- Creating policy and programs for implementation with African American alumni at the international, national, and regional levels;
- Ensuring that African American alumni activities are compatible with the mission and programs of the Alumni Association;
- Overseeing the Black Alumni Emergency Fund and the African American Alumni Association group fund;
- Continuing to work with the Admissions Office to maximize African American College and Conservatory enrollment including
- matching alumni with Oberlin prospective students, and
- participating in college preparatory/orientation programs for enrolling students;
- Working with all Oberlin constituencies to promote persistence to graduation of African American College and Conservatory students;
- Welcoming new African American Alumni Association members on an ongoing basis.
Membership is open to all African American graduates and non-graduates.
Officers are selected on an annual basis by a steering committee which is open to all interested persons. Membership on the steering committee is on a voluntary basis. If demand is such that elections are deemed necessary, electoral processes will be established by the steering committee.
Approved 9/21/97 Executive Board
* The original name of the group was “The Oberlin African American Alumni Association” (OAAAA).