By the late 1960s, the term "black power" was brandished on virtually every college campus and in city in the United States. Although this phrase for many whites connotated ideas of aggressive black militancy and violence, the founders of the Black Student Alliance at RPI used it as one of their philosophies in hopes to reach its goals. Nick Williams, one of the founding BSA members, explains that the black power movement at RPI and the then newly formed BSA were needed because "in many cases, integration has failed in changing the out look of many whites. The black man has been accepted as an inferior rather than equal basis. Psychologically this feeling of inferiority has caused the black man to loose his identity. The black man must identify with his people and feel pride in his culture and accomplishments. Black power simply means political, economic, and educational power for the black".
This move towards racial pride and self-respect prompted the blacks at RPI in conjunction with those at other colleges in the area, such as SUNY-Albany, to form the Tri City Afro-American Student Alliance in November of the 1967-1968 school year. Originally, it began as a social outreach for blacks in the Tri-State area, however it grew into a political group with definite programs and ideas. This organization is what came to be known as the RPI (Student Union recognized) Black Student Alliance. They gave the RPI administration a list of proposals to help improve the situation of the 17 blacks then attending RPI as well as the plight of the surrounding community. These proposals included instituting black history programs, ending the negative depiction of blacks in campus publications, recruitment of more blacks to RPI, allowing blacks to freely join campus organizations, and the hiring of more black faculty and staff who would be more sensitive to their needs (such as a Black Dean and Recruiter). BSA felt that the RPI administration has a moral responsibility to assist them in these matters.
For over 30 years now, the Black Student Allience has continued to keep its commitment to aide the black community at the institute as it did it is early days.
The Alliance shall exist to allow the participation of all people in the promotion of black cultural, intellectual, and social interests at RPI and in the surrounding community. Above all the alliance shall serve: