In 1987, approximately 200 people gathered at the site of Colgate University’s new cultural center for the official groundbreaking ceremony. In 2019, community members returned this site — now named the Africana, Latin American, Asian American, and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center — to celebrate its 30-year anniversary.

During the ALANA Founders’ Week celebrations, starting April 22, ALANA hosted tile-creation sessions, a rededication ceremony, and a panel discussion on “The Art of Historical Storytelling” from Diane Ciccone ’74, P’10, Gretchen Hoadley Burke ’81 Endowed Chair in Regional Studies Kyle Bass, and Digital History Project Manager Emily Jeffres.

Though the center celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, ALANA’s historical roots are still older. In 1968, the Association of Black Collegians held a 100-hour sit-in at the Office of Admission, demanding an end to institutional racism at Colgate. In the spring of 1969, they returned to the admission building for a 70-hour sit-in. Among other outcomes, an institutional promise to create a black ethnic cultural center arose from this protest — a promise that was fulfilled later that year with ALANA’s opening.

During the 30th anniversary rededication ceremony, Leanna Rice, director of the ALANA Cultural Center, affirmed the center’s ongoing mission to serve as an educational space for students of color as well as the larger Colgate community.

“ALANA is about community building,” noted Leanna Rice. “This place was built for caring for one another and supporting those who need it most.”

In a letter to the Colgate community, Rice quoted Nelson Mandela. “‘Remember to celebrate the milestones, even as we prepare for the road ahead,’ and to tell the stories that are not always the prettiest, but remind us of the boldness of past, and our necessary commitment to bettering the future,” she wrote. “Thank you again for all of your support throughout our history at the ALANA Cultural Center and as we trailblaze into the future.”

ALANA’s 30th anniversary celebration continues during the Bicentennial All-Class Reunion, May 30–June 2.

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