The Black Student Movement (BSM) formed in November 1967 in response to the slow pace of African American enrollment at the university and the dissatisfaction of black students with the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Preston Dobbins (Class of 1969) served as the first president of the group, which was officially recognized by the university as a student organization in December 1967. One of the BSM's main goals was to become the voice for African American students at the university. On 11 December 1968, it presented to Chancellor J. Carlyle Sitterson a list of 23 demands, including increased admissions of black students, the creation of a department of African and Afro-American studies, and better treatment of non-academic employees. The BSM soon formed an alliance with the campus food service workers, who went on strike on 23 February 1969. Members of the BSM supported the strikers by organizing a boycott and picketing. Dining services were immobilized for a month, after which most of the workers' demands were met.
On 14 November 1997, to mark the thirtieth anniversary of its founding, Black Student Movement members presented Chancellor Michael Hooker with a list of 22 demands, including a declaration by the chancellor of his support for a freestanding black cultural center. At the same time, they rallied in support of campus housekeepers and groundskeepers. A freestanding center had been endorsed earlier by Chancellor Paul Hardin, but planning and fund raising had proceeded very slowly. The BSM continued to press the administration on this issue. In 2004, the Sonja Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center (now Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History), which had been housed in the Student Union, moved into a new building devoted solely to its programs.
The BSM also organized many events and activities for African American students at the university and fostered subgroups engaged in dance, theater, gospel singing, and other cultural programs. These include the BSM Gospel Choir, the Opeyo! Dancers, the Ebony Readers/Onyx Theater spoken-word poetry group, the Black Ink newspaper, and the Harmonyx a capella group. As of 2013, the BSM remained one of the largest student organizations on campus with as many as 400 members per year.
From the guide to the Black Student Movement of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1970s-2012, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. University Archives.)