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 HaylerAlma 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.

“We didn’t think BOSS was starting something, It was the black women who were in one place at one time sitting down, talking about stuff . . . stuff that was affecting us. And so we met a few times, we talked a few times. We sort of fueled each other’s feelings of isolation and the University’s responsibility to us.”
— Frances Sadler ‘72, a founding member of B.O.S.S.
Frances Sadler '72

Frances Sadler '72

B.O.S.S.

 

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.

Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters