In 1968, a group of students gathered in Frances Sadler’s (’72) dorm to discuss their experiences and concerns of being a Black woman at a predominantly white institution.
In following the energy of the 1968 takeover of Hamilton Hall, the group discussed forms and needs for activism on Barnard’s College and maintained a space for them to have conversations about experiences regarding their identity at Barnard.
Members elected a steering committee – form of an executive board—consisting of Clara Hayler, Alma Kinney and Carmen Martinez. The committee “mobilized the activities of the Black Organization of Soul Sisters” by developing a manifesto that addressed thematic concerns of how they, as Black women, existed at Barnard.
The name supposedly derived from multiple sources: Sherry Suttles ’69, a founding member of B.O.S.S., recalled in an email that she brainstormed the acronym with the help of her mother, Ann Suttles, the Executive Director of a Detroit-based group called BOSS (Black Order of Social Servants). According to Suttles, the word “boss” was a popular colloquial expression at the time. Frances Sadler ’72 remembered coming up with the name.