For three-degree grad Doris Houston, there’s no place like the Bruce Nesbitt African American Cultural Center — her home away from home in the early '80s.
It came “furnished with a couple of ‘gently worn’ couches, a piano, television and lots of open space for students to gather, work on homework, and on the weekends, dance to the 1980s sounds of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Kool & the Gang,” says Houston, who now directs Illinois State’s Center for Child Welfare and Adoption Studies and in June 2020 will become ISU’s interim assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion.
“For many of us who were first generation college students, the ‘Black House’ was a place for us to fellowship, receive mentoring from ‘Uncle Bruce’ and the cultural center staff — Nathaniel Banks and Mrs. Harmon.
“Any day of the week, you might find a half-eaten pizza in the kitchen, or a few left-over snacks from a cultural event. The basement housed the WBML, student radio station.”
The building Harmon visited was replaced by a larger, sleeker model in 2019, but “the memories of the old building on Nevada will live on,” she says.