In the spring of 2019, students from the Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters (BOSS), the staff of the Barnard Archives and Special Collections, and Sherry Suttles '69 (a co-founder of BOSS) came together to celebrate and reflect on fifty years of the organization.
Using materials from the archives, students Maat Bates and Denise Mantey curated an exhibit focusing on the initial ten demands issued by BOSS members in 1969, inviting reflection from fellow students on the important victories that BOSS pushed for as well as aspects of the demands that are still not realized, fifty years later, and the struggles to maintain space and autonomy for Black student organizing at Barnard. This work was supported by Archives staff but was led by BOSS students and speaks to the incredible labor and care which BOSS students put into maintaining connections to their antecedents and sharing BOSS history. A month later, Martha Tenney of the Archives organized an event at the 50th reunion of the class of 1969, featuring a conversation between Sherry and Denise (with questions written by Maat!) on legacies of Black activism. This event also provided an occasion for Sherry to review her collection in the Archives , make additional donations of materials documenting her life after Barnard, and share with her classmates about the significance of maintaining her archives at Barnard. We will talk about relationship-building, feminist ethics of care, and the ways that students and alums were centered as creators, custodians, and historians in this work.