40th anniversary brings B/AACC, El Centro alums together

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On Oct. 7 – Friday of Homecoming and Family Weekend – the Black/African American Cultural Center and El Centro celebrated 40 years of supporting students of color on the Colorado State University campus with an alumni reception. Former directors, and assistant directors and special guests from across the decades were invited for dinner, entertainment and lots and lots of networking.

More than 200 people attended the event in the Lory Student Center Ballroom, including Homecoming Parade Grand Marshals Blanche Hughes, CSU vice president for student affairs and a former director of Black Students Services (as B/AACC was formerly known); and Polly Baca, CSU alumna and the first Hispanic woman elected to a state Senate in 1974.

Speakers included Hughes; current directors Lupe Salazar of El Centro and Bridgette Johnson of B/AACC, and CSU President Tony Frank, who gave an update on diversity initiatives on campus.

“When we were inviting people to attend, the response was so positive,” Hughes said. “I talked to people who hadn’t been on campus for maybe 10 years, and they are excited to become reengaged with CSU.”

Miss Colorado Shannon Patilla, a CSU alumna, sang to open the evening, and ElmerFunk, a 10-piece band led by alumna Valerie “Peaches” Embry, got the crowd up and dancing.

The reunion festivities continued Saturday with brunches and tailgating for both organizations ahead of the last-ever Homecoming football game in Hughes Stadium – the Rams beat Utah State 31-24.

Watch this video to learn more about the work of El Centro and the Black/African American Cultural Center at CSU.