The Forum on Black Affairs began in 1974 as the Black Action Council; partly to start up a new celebration to be known as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Banquet, and was sponsored primarily through the Office of the Provost.  After a few years the group renamed itself the Forum on Black Affairs, and has held that name ever since.  Around 1980 FOBA decided to become independent of the Provost’s Office and severed its funding relationship.  This meant, of course, that it then had to provide its own funding, which it did partly by charging membership dues.  Membership grew steadily but slowly; however, the MLK Jr. Banquet grew rapidly in popularity. At around 2007 the banquet numbers had to be capped at about 700 guests because our largest practical venue was exceeded in capacity; in short we were packing them in. 

During the early years there were perhaps 35 – 40 members.  Membership has steadily grown through last year when it numbered an even 100.  In addition to its star event, the MLK Jr. Banquet that takes place each January 15 (King’s birthday), FOBA sponsors or participates in many local events.  Each September FOBA sponsors or co-sponsors a reception to welcome new black faculty and staff entering the University. This event is important enough that a few years ago the Office of the President requested becoming a co-sponsor.

Over the years FOBA has had many officers including roughly 30 different presidents, and somewhat fewer secretaries and treasurers, not to mention innumerable committee chairs. Those are the people who have led and still lead FOBA‘s many activities that members support, both with their dues and with their participation. Given our history it appears that FOBA shall be an influential instrument at Penn State for many years to come.

Black Paper on Recruitment and Retention

Below is the abstract of the official position of the Forum on Black Affairs on the issue of recruitment and retention of Black students, faculty and staff at Penn State. This paper was presented to then president, Dr. Bryce Jordan, on November 2, 1987.