An Abbreviated History of The Pan African Network

The unique history of the Pan African Network is grounded in much of what’s documented about The Standing Committee on Multicultural Affairs (CMA). The Standing Committee on Multicultural Affairs saw its beginnings at the April 11, 1968 Executive Council meeting of the American College Personnel Association when the Task Force on Race and the College Community was established. This Task Force was charged with submitting a final report of its findings the following year. At the March 30, 1969 meeting, this report was accepted and included a request for the funding and support of the Black Task Force Committee.

The Black Task Force Committee was created to ensure that sensitivity was given to the presence and needs of Black faculty, staff, and students. Initially, it was understood that the committee would convene on a temporary basis; but the association soon realized that the needs of its Pan African population were especially complex and could not be remedied by temporary solutions. Therefore, the Black Task Force Committee remained active within the larger organization. Within a few years of its development, the work of the Task Force purportedly conflicted with the Commission's already established in ACPA, both with regard to meeting schedules and the availability of ACPA resources. Soon, the Task Force was perceived solely as a space for Black members by the ACPA delegation rather than a cooperative entity pursuant of minority interests. This conflict was exacerbated by the fact that ACPA Senators were voting on minority issues without seeking input from the Task Force, as it was regarded as an exclusively Black establishment.

In 1975, dialogue surrounding the inclusion of other races and ethnicities evolved into a discussion on the purpose of the Task Force. As a result, the Black Task Force transitioned into the Minority Task Force. The ACPA Minority Task Force served as a vehicle for informing ACPA’s approach to implementing services inclusive of minority counter-narratives, perspectives, and ascribed needs. The Minority Task Force aided the American College Personnel Association in formulating and implementing appropriate and effective development services designed to enhance the quality of life of the minority constituents of American colleges and universities. The Minority Task Force focused on the following groups of students’ higher education:

  1. Black American Students attending White institutions

  2. Adult Learners (beyond the age of 25)

  3. Handicapped Students

  4. Native American Students

  5. Mexican American Students

  6. International Students

In 1976, a position paper was drafted outlining the focus of the Minority Task Force. Within this temporal context, individuals designated as minorities were those identifying as Black, Native American, Spanish-speaking American, and Asian American. A structure for each identity group began to emerge and the organization soon solicited input from the Task Force on racial matters. The Minority Task Force operated with a limited budget, but successfully maintained a significant degree of programmatic activity. Due to its effectiveness and high levels of success, the group pushed for legitimate recognition within ACPA. In 1977, the proposal for task force conversion was included on the convention agenda. While the mechanics of the proposed change were set in motion, the minority Task Force was unable to attain backing from general membership to support the change during the Denver, Colorado convention.

While Commission status was not granted to the Minority Task Force during the 1977 convention, the entity successfully transitioned into the Standing Committee on Multicultural Affairs during the 1979 convention in Los Angeles, California. The following year, several projects were completed, including an in-depth needs assessment survey. The purpose of the survey was to determine minorities’ expectations for ACPA and the Committee on Multicultural Affairs. Over the years, each chairperson contributed to the advancement of the Standing Committee and furthered its mission. In 1987, the infrastructure of the Committee was reorganized and identity-based subcommittees were developed. Respectively, these subgroups served as the precursors to the Pan African Network, the Latino/a Network, the Asian Pacific American Network, and the Native American Network. As CMA continues to grow and expand upon its services and resources, it has also provided a platform for its members to develop and move up the ranks within ACPA and other Associations. Notably, the majority of the identity-based groups that are currently available in the contemporary structure of ACPA can be attributed to the Black Task Force.