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What Is The BCC?

What is the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center (BCC)?

It is a gathering place a home away from home for students who study in the BCC, gather there for meetings, and learn about African and African American culture through the center’s programs.  The Center was established in 1984, in honor of Bishop Joseph Johnson, the first African-American to attend and graduate from Vanderbilt University.   The BCC has three main goals which make up its mission:

  • Cultural and Educational Programming
  • Student Support and Development
  • Community Outreach and Service

The BCC’s programs and partnerships, serve to promote respect, understanding, tolerance and a greater appreciation for cultural and racial diversity.

What goes on at the BCC?
The BCC sponsors speakers’ series and panel discussions, BBC Book Club discussions, and poetry readings.  You can come to the BCC to see a play, witness a musical performance, or take part in one of a number of annual events and celebrations, as such Dia de la Raza,  pre-Kwanzaa; Walter Murray Lecture (co-sponsored with The Ingram Commons) and Black History and Women’s History Month events.

What goes on at the BCC is a celebration of Diversity –African and African American life, culture and contributions, by Vanderbilt University students, faculty, staff and campus visitors.

Why should I visit the BCC?
You should stop by to gain an understanding of and deeper appreciation for the contributions of people of African descent.  We invite you to visit the BCC—to see our exhibit of African American and African art; to feast on Soul Food during our fall semester Welcome Back Luncheon; to meet the BCC staff and make new friends among the students, faculty, staff and alumni who frequent the BCC.  And, don’t just be a visitor, come back often—to see a visiting art exhibit, or hear a stimulating panel discussion; and make new friends!

Who utilizes the BCC?
The entire Vanderbilt University campus does!
The BCC is open to any and all VU students, faculty and staff.  Vanderbilt faculty hold academic classes in the BCC Seminar room, and the BCC auditorium hosts numerous scholarly presentations for Vanderbilt departments, schools and colleges.   We also host events for community partners such as the YMCA, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Organized Neighbors of Edgehill.

Some of the famous speakers who have visited the BCC include:  Angela Davis, Julian Bond, the late Negro Leagues Legend, Buck O’Neil, Afeni Shakur (mother of the late Tupac Shakur); and Dr. Eugene Richardson of the Tuskegee Airmen.

BCC facilities—auditorium, seminar room,  computer lab and lounge—are open to the entire University, and are heavily utilized by the campus, students, faculty and staff.

What else does the BCC do?
Our daily functions involve working with student organizations, numerous campus partners, and providing facilities for the campus and community.  The BCC also sponsors a variety of programs designed to enlighten, educate, and even entertain.  The BCC serves Vanderbilt students and student groups as well as our entire campus.  BCC staff  members serve as advisers and mentors to numerous student groups and organizations.

Finally, the BCC performs Community Service and Outreach activities with the help of VU students, faculty and staff.   One signature outreach effort is the Edgehill Initiative, a community outreach effort in partnership with The Ingram Commons, through which first-year students and other VU students serve as tutors and mentors to underprivileged children from the near-by Edgehill community.

Goals Of The Black Cultural Center

  1. Cultural Programming through seminars, lectures, films, art exhibits and other specific campus and community programs.
  2. Student Development through the support of student organizations, the Center provides facilities, resources, advising and partnership for student groups, events and co-sponsorship of student-centered programs.
  3. Community Outreach through partnerships with local schools, churches and community organizations the Center reaches out to the Greater Nashville community.  Particular emphasis is placed on providing academic tutoring and mentoring to disadvantaged children in Nashville in partnership with The Ingram Commons.


Features Of The Center

•Art Gallery

•Multi-Purpose Auditorium

•Conference/Meeting Rooms

•Afro-Hispanic Review Offices

•Full Computer Lab

•Student TV Lounge with full AV system and film library

•Patio Area

•Kitchen Space

BCC Programs And Services

Student Development—the BCC serves the students

•Black Student Association Headquarters

•Organization of Black Graduate and Professional Students (OBGAPS)

•First Friday Fellowship

•Association of Vanderbilt Black Alumni (AVBA) annual meeting

•Vanderbilt Spoken Word

•Black Graduates’ Recognition Ceremony


Cultural Programming—the BCC endeavors to educate

•Living History Luncheon Series

•Fall/Spring Art Exhibits

•Black Films and Documentaries

•Black History Month Programming

•International Lens Film Series

•Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative

•Afro-Hispanic Review literary journal

•Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration

Community Outreach – the BCC reaches out and gives back

•Vanderbilt After School Program co-sponsored with The Ingram Commons

•Nashville African Street Festival

•YMCA Black Achievers Program co-sponsored with Vanderbilt School of Engineering and Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.

•YMCA Bridge Program

•Community Tours and Special Presentations