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Black Womyn’s Association to Celebrate 40th Anniversary


Black Womyn’s Association (BWA), formerly known as Black Womyn’s Weekend, celebrates its 40th anniversary with a weekend of activities that begin on Friday, April 27. A detailed history of the organization will also be archived in the Frank Melville Library in August 2018.

BWA is one of Stony Brook University’s senior organizations, founded in 1978 by a group of African-American women during the post-civil rights period. Primarily organized in response to the brutal Atlanta child murders, where several African-American boys were killed, the initial group of women and men dedicated an inspiring weekend of prose, dance, an expressive fashion show, and a family community picnic in order to raise funds yielding a monetary pledge for the Mothers of Atlanta.

BWA Co-founder Deborah Briton-Riley
BWA Co-founder Deborah Briton-Riley

“The opinions and voices of women, their academic achievement, leadership development and professionalism — all central to the organization’s original concept — continue as seminal tenets, assuring BWA’s preeminent position among the University’s student organizations,” said BWA Co-founder Deborah Briton-Riley.

During the course of BWA’s 40-year history, the organization has become a symbol of professionalism. BWA offers programming and has extensive collaborations with faculty and staff, addressing issues, evoking dialogue, stimulating referendums, and forging student positions on issues relating to university growth and development, admissions policies, cultural diversity, and a host of other issues pertinent to collegiate life.

BWA established the Multicultural Womyn’s Alliance, creating a true think tank where women’s issues are identified and discussed to encourage comradery, program planning and a wholesome, realistic forum for women to get to know and understand their commonalities and respective cultures.

Community service and fundraising over the years have supported the adoption of the Hope Mission in Kenya, East Africa, providing support for the orphans of AIDs victims. Several other community service activities such as College 101, where secondary students are introduced to collegiate life, involved school districts across Suffolk County and New York City. Girls, Inc. and HELP Suffolk, Inc. were also integral components of the organization’s community service focus.

BWA members at a Valentine's Day gathering on campus.
BWA members at a Valentine’s Day gathering on campus.

“Black Womyn’s Association remains an endearing focal point for many members, past and present, to remember relationships, address former classmates, reminisce about collegiate years, and share in an indelible legacy of sisterhood that has maintained a prominent status for 40 years,” said Briton-Riley.

For more information about the 40th anniversary celebration or about the Black Womyn’s Association, please email

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