Revival of BCC’s Black and Latinx Studies Option Rooted in Student-Led Political Activism of the ‘60s & ‘70s

  Update   •

In the mid-1960s, BCC was a hub for celebrating Black scholars and organizers, with well-known activists such as Angela Yvonne Davis visiting and speaking on campus. Student-led activism in opposition to racism, colonialism, and war ran high globally and throughout CUNY. Student protests at BCC (with the occupation of a building in 1969) led to the creation of an Afro-American and Puerto Rican Studies program, which resembles the current Black and Latinx Studies option launched in Fall 2022 under the Liberal Arts and Sciences major.

“Now in its second year, the Black/Latinx program aims to provide an institutional home for students interested in pursuing this course of study and for faculty and staff who are doing amazing work in this area,” said Dr. Monique A. Guishard, deputy chair of Social Sciences. “The program is a rebirth of the original Afro-American and Puerto Rican studies program. BCC has recognized the importance of reinstating something similar to what students demanded decades ago.”

Dr. Monique A. Guishard headshot from LinkedIn

Dr. Guishard is the coordinator of the Black/Latinx Studies option, which has been supported heavily by BCC faculty and staff-led organizations, including the Association for Latino Faculty and Staff, and Unity and Strength, the Black Faculty and Staff Association. The course of study, suitable for students interested in specializing in Black/Latinx cultural and historical aspects of law, business, science, teaching, creative writing, literature, medical, and other fields, gives students the opportunity to understand historical and cultural movements that directly impact the fields they choose to enter.

“We are excited to be offering a major that provides a strong sense of connection for so many of our students. The beauty of having Black American/Latinx studies is that if you can first feel you identify with something, it is then a lot easier to move through the subject matter to understanding,” Dr. Raquel Otheguy of the History Department said. “Education is about understanding yourself and the world and broadening your mind. That comes when you are connected personally to what you’re learning about and also when you are encouraged to pursue something that interests you. I want to empower students to pursue things they are interested in.”

Dr. Guishard says it boils down to belonging. “High student engagement correlates with a high sense of belonging, and through this program, students can feel that sense of belonging they might not otherwise experience,” she said. “They can see tangible examples of people who have pursued Black/Latinx studies successfully.”

The Black/ Latinx Studies Option has articulation agreements with several four-year colleges, so that students can transfer their course of study seamlessly.  Among the courses offered are African American History, Black Poetry, History of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Latin American History and The Black Writer in American Literature.

“As this program option continues to grow and attract more students, giving them an intellectual home in this space, we see the program expanding to provide additional course offerings,” Dr. Guishard adds. “It is promising for the college as a whole.”

For more information on BCC’s long history of activism, achievement and community, visit

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