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Roxbury Community College History

RCC 1980s

Build RCC Rally (1980)

Build RCC Rally, 1980

Even after receiving approval for a permanent site, located in the Southwest Corridor, delays and power struggles halted the progress of building a college in Roxbury.

In May of 1980, the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges (MBRCC) proposed a merger between Bunker Hill Community College and RCC.




Build RCC Rally Flier (1980)

Flier for the Help Build RCC rally held on April 30, 1980

At the time of the proposed merger, RCC had approximately 1,000 students and a dedicated staff and faculty. The merger idea was strongly contested by the community, which argued that the predominantly black neighborhood and its residents would lose representation and opportunity in higher education. The proposal resulted in a protest at the Massachusetts State House, including a teach-in.

The rally organizers stressed that "RCC is the only majority black institution of higher education in Massachusetts and has the only fully bilingual program." An issue that plagued RCC since its inception, the desire for community members to have access to a quality education within their neighborhood, was always at the forefront of the mission.

The controversial plan played out in the media as well, with local papers documenting both sides of the argument. In the end, the merger of RCC and Bunker Hill Community College did not take place, and plans to build in the Southwest Corridor continued.



Saundra Graham, Michael Dukakis, and Ray Flynn at RCC groundbreaking (1985)

Saundra Graham, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and Boston Mayor Ray Flynn at RCC groundbreaking ceremony, August 27, 1985

In the interim, the school made one more move to its last temporary location on Huntington Avenue during the summer of 1982.

In December 1982, Dr. Brunetta Wolfman was elected as RCC's first female president and was inaugurated on April 16, 1983.




Ground breaking ceremony for the permanent site of Roxbury Community College (1985)

Shovels and hard hats at the groundbreaking ceremony for the permanent site of Roxbury Community College, August 27, 1985

Finally, the long awaited groundbreaking ceremony for RCC's campus occurred on August 27, 1985. Many of Boston's leaders were in attendance including Boston Mayor Ray Flynn and Governor Michael Dukakis. The day's celebration included speeches, music, and the ceremonial first shovel to mark the start of construction.

Click here to view more images of the groundbreaking ceremony.

Click here to read the program from the ceremony.



Construction of Roxbury Community College (1985)

Construction of Roxbury Community College, 1985 (image taken by Abbott-Boyle Photographers)

With a projected cost of $24.7 million, construction began at the Southwest Corridor location. The construction took approximately three years, finally giving Roxbury Community College a permanent home and a prominent place in the community it intended to serve. 

Click here to view more images of the construction of RCC.

Mayor Ray Flynn at the Roxbury Community College Open House (1988)

Boston Mayor, Ray Flynn at the Roxbury Community College Open House, held on April 11, 1988

On April 11, 1988 Roxbury Community College celebrated its long-awaited opening. So many people anticipated this day, and the celebration did not disappoint. Boston Mayor, Ray Flynn, spoke during the festivities. 




Roxbury Community College Open House (1988)

Dr. Brunetta Wolfman and guests at the Roxbury Community College Open House, April 11, 1988

Though she officially resigned on December 16, 1987, Dr. Wolfman delayed her departure in order to oversee a smooth transition to the new site.

The new construction totaled $40 million, with a 12.3 acre campus, and comprised 4 buildings, 55 classrooms, a library, and a greenhouse.

Click here to see more photos of the open house celebrations.

“The campus has become a symbol of better things to come for an old neighborhood in the center of Boston long identified with intractable poverty, crime and urban blight,” The New York Times, 1988.


Massachusetts Community College Rally (1989)

RCC faculty and staff at the Massachusetts Community College Rally, 1989

Despite overcoming challenges and setbacks along the way to getting a place of their own, the RCC community had to fight again towards the end of the decade. Community college education was under threat state-wide.

In March of 1989, members from every Massachusetts community college congregated at the State House to have their voices heard. Students, faculty, and administrators met with government representatives. Speakers included Governor Michael Dukakis, Representative Byron Rushing, and other strong supporters of affordable avenues to higher education. Remarks were also given by students and faculty.

Click here to see more images of the rally.





Representative Byron Rushing speaking at the MA Community College Rally (1989)

[MA CC Rally - information about and a link to the flickr]