Conney M. Kimbo
The Black Cultural Center is named in honor of Conney M. Kimbo, an American educator and leader in multicultural affairs and black culture. Kimbo had a long and distinguished academic career, including serving as Dean of Student Affairs at Grinnell from 1970 to 1973. Prior to coming to the college he wasDean of Student Affairs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Vice-President for Student Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Kimbo received his B.A. degree in English and physical education and M.A. degree in health education from Indiana University. He earned a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Iowa.
A private collector of art and active patron of the arts, Dean Kimbo was an acknowledged expert on African art and the work of American black artists. As a tribute to Kimbo's contributions to black culture, the University of Pittsburgh held a juried exhibition of the work of Pittsburgh black artists in 1989.
Kimbo's contributions to the fostering of the multicultural community at the University of Pittsburgh earned him a posthumous University of Pittsburgh Award for Affirmative Action. His work in the wider community was recognized by the granting of the Peoplehood Award to him by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Kimbo died in Pittsburgh on April 13, 1989, at the age of 56.
History of the Black Cultural Center
The Black Cultural Center (BCC) has played a significant role in Grinnell's rich and complex history. During the tumultuous years of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Grinnell's black students were inspired and empowered by the social movements taking place throughout the United States. Concerned Black Students, an organization founded in 1967, asked that a black student center be built to celebrate and preserve black culture and history for the Grinnell community. Their request was honored in 1969 by the Board of Trustees.
The BCC is a testament to the dedication to social change and civil rights of Grinnell's black students through the decades. It includes a growing library of black culture and history and is the site of art displays, seminars, and discussion groups. The BCC collaborates with academic departments and other student organizations to educate the campus on issues of diversity and multiculturalism.
The center is overseen by two students who live in the house, help plan events, and are responsible for the maintenance of its artifacts and library. Karen Wooldridge and Pat Baird were the original caretakers of the house and the tradition continues today with Kwame Nti-Addae and Joseph Nelson. "The House," as it is affectionately called by members of the Grinnell community, continues to play an important role in the lives of Grinnell students.