The editor's note in Positively Black, W.E.B. Du Bois College House's first yearbook from 1989, reads, “I hope...those that follow will band together and continue to produce this publication."
Now, 30 years later, Du Bois residents are doing just that. Students are creating a new edition of the yearbook to celebrate the college house's residents.
College senior Yosef Robele, who is leading the project, has lived in Du Bois for four years and said he was inspired to create the new yearbook after coming across it.
“It’s been a central part of my life here on campus and I want to give something back to it before I left and graduated,” Robele said. “I think it was really cool how you can kind of see a snapshot of black campus life during 1989, and I thought that’s something we should continue to document.”
Robele, a former Daily Pennsylvanian staffer, is working with six other students to create the yearbook, and Du Bois College House is helping fund the project. 1989 College graduate David France created the first issue of Positively Black, and is now helping Robele develop the new issue years later.
“I saw a need for the black community at Penn to come together and discuss the preservation of our legacy at Penn,” France wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Yearbooks are a fantastic community builder. When done right, a yearbook can provide a great platform for expression and great memories!”
While the new yearbook aims to maintain the structure of the original yearbook, Robele said they are still going to make it their own.
“We definitely want to make it our own, so we want to keep the same general content but kind of update it and make it more relevant to life now,” Robele said. He added that the new yearbook plans to keep some of its original components — such as photos of black club board members and performing arts groups — but it will mostly focus on Du Bois life.
Engineering freshman Ralph Tamakloe, the project's board secretary, said he joined to help leave an impact on the house's history.
“I wanted to be part of the celebration of the history of the college house,” Tamakloe said. “It’s the 30th anniversary of the old yearbook, which is why we want to make this.”
The group plans to complete the yearbook before the end of next spring semester.
Robele also hopes the Du Bois yearbook tradition will continue after he graduates, adding that he intentionally reached out to younger Du Bois residents who can continue the project.
He said he hopes that “in ten years, someone comes into the library and they can look at what Du Bois was like 10, nine, eight, seven years ago.”
The original yearbook concludes with a message the new generation of Du Bois’s students are taking to heart with their new project: “To the Black underclassmen, you are the future. Don’t let that scare you, instead, let it inspire you to be the best! Work together during your remaining years at Penn and keep Positively Black alive."
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