Celebrating 50 Years of the Onyx Club

As part of our Black History Month celebrations this year, an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Onyx Club was unveiled in early February.
Through a series of photographs outside the Innovation Commons, the exhibit tells the stories of notable Onyx alumni, as well as -- in a section called "The Shoulders We Stand On" -- trailblazing Black students and alumni who attended Gonzaga before Onyx was founded.
Those highlighted include Dr. Gabe Smith '54, Gonzaga's first Black graduate; Mr. Darryl Hill '60, the first Black student-athlete to play at the University of Maryland and in the ACC; Mr Jake Simmons '65, the first Black Commander of the White House Communications Agency; and Colonel Benjamin "Alvin" Drew '80, a NASA astronaut who was the final African-American to fly on board a Space Shuttle before the spacecraft system was retired.
The exhibit also talks about some of the renowned speakers Gonzaga has hosted at its Black History Month Assembly over the years, including the late Congressman John Lewis in 2017 and Congressman James Clyburn in 2022.
"Five decades of Onyx has produced hundreds of Gonzaga men who are successful in many different ways, and we are proud of them all," one of the panels in the exhibit says. Though there is not enough space to recognize everyone, the examples in the exhibit "define Black excellence and will hopefully inspire generations of future students."

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