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In 1973 William Leftwich, Vice President of Student Affairs, sent memos to President E. Bruce Heilman and Charles E. Glassick regarding Student Organization for Black Awareness (SOBA). The memo suggests that SOBA had been in existence since 1972 however, articles in the Collegian date SOBA’s creation to 1973. In the memo’s Leftwich is passing on a request from members of SOBA to meet with the University administrators claiming that the meeting would be beneficial and viewed as a broader University interest in black students. Heilman says, “There is probably not a whole lot that I, or anyone else, can do to satisfy complaints, but if it is in the spirit of fellowship together rather than an adversary relationship then we can get together almost any time in the near future.” It is unclear whether or not the meeting actually took place. The meeting, which could have been an opportunity for black students to voice their ideas for improving black student life on campus, was instead taken as a symbolic gesture. This highlights the lack of interest the University had in the lives of black students and that they were focused on building a false reputation of their interest in black student life. Despite this, SOBA was actively trying to better the black student experience with the implementation of activities targeted at black students but open to all.
SOBA was the first black oriented club at University of Richmond. SOBA was a social club intended to promote black visibility and integration into University of Richmond. On October 17th, 1974 the Collegian published an article called “SOBA Discusses the Year’s Events” the Chairman of SOBA, Reggie Mitchell said, “The primary aim of the S.O.B.A. is to help blacks retain their identity at school and in the city of Richmond by promoting black culture and history, thus increasing an awareness of themselves." SOBA was formed to give black students an avenue to get involved in campus life.
SOBA hosted the first Black History Week on campus, which took place February 3-10th 1974. It featured a rap session, a play performed by the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) players and a dance. The Collegian article “SOBA Moves Towards the Mainstream” clarifies that SOBA was not intended to be a separatist organization but rather it relied on the cooperation of white students to be successful. A Collegian article published in 1976 called “SOBA Working to Alter Blacks Image on Campus” said, “Cones said that SOBA gives the black student on campus a chance to get together with other blacks and try to solve some common problems.” SOBA was an unintentional act of activism that provided a sense of security and belonging to black students where there wasn’t one before.