Above: College of Charleston alumni attend the Black Alumni Collective Leadership Symposium. (Photos by AJ Shorter Photography)  

The College of Charleston, The Citadel and the University of South Carolina recently co-hosted the 2023 National Black Alumni Collective (BAC) Leadership Symposium March 9-12, 2023.

More than 140 participants from over 20 international and national colleges and universities attended the four-day symposium, which took place on the College of Charleston and The Citadel campuses. The theme of this year’s symposium was “firsts.”

Canisha Fletcher

“This was the first time the BAC worked with multiple schools at multiple campuses and the College’s first president of color, President Andrew Hsu, greeted participants,” says Canisha Fletcher ’95, who serves on the board of the College’s Black Alumni Council and was a co-chair of the symposium’s planning committee.

Other firsts featured during the symposium included:

  • A panel discussion held on March 9 at the College featuring Black trailblazers from the three co-hosting institutions, including the College’s first Black female graduate and second Black athletic scholarship recipient; The Citadel’s first Black academic scholarship recipient and first Black athletic scholarship recipient; and the University of South Carolina’s first Black Alumni Council president.
  • Events hosted at The Citadel on March 10 included presentations from the military college’s first Black football coach and three of the first 100 Black female cadets.
  • Rep. James Clyburn, the first Black South Carolina U.S. representative in over 90 years, shared his collegiate and political journey with symposium participants during an event at the College on March 11.
  • On Sunday, March 12, the 2023 National Black Alumni Collective (BAC) Leadership Symposium worshipped at Mother Emanuel AME Church, the oldest AME church in the South.

College of Charleston President Andrew Hsu greets attendees at the BAC Leadership Symposium.

Fletcher says this year’s symposium was the third time she’s attended a BAC national conference, noting the experience motivates her to keep supporting her alma mater and fellow alumni. She credited President Hsu, Ann Pryor ’83, vice president of alumni affairs, Meredith Chance, director of CofC clubs and affinity groups, and College of Charleston Board of Trustees member Neysa Williams ’95 as well as the College’s Black Alumni Council for their support of the symposium.

“Each conference helps revive my passion for serving on the College of Charleston’s Black Alumni Council because panel sessions and networking opportunities remind participants of the importance of giving back to our institutions – by giving financially, being mentors, assisting with recruiting and retention, and sharing our experiences and learning our history,” she says. “I, along with Wayne Black (The Citadel) and Randy Grimes (the University of South Carolina), believe each participant left Charleston rejuvenated and inspired to work with their respective institutions’ leaders and alumni to help grow future Black alumni leaders while enhancing their current Black alumni councils/associations.”