Trotter Multicultural Center

Our History:

The Trotter Multicultural Center, as it is known today, began as Trotter House, a Black Student Cultural Center. It is part of a long legacy of activism brought on by African American students united under the Black Action Movement (BAM)-- a legacy that connects other departments and centers including but not limited to; the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS), Multi-ethnic Student Affairs (MESA), the Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP), The Diversity Peer Educators Program and Multicultural Lounges, and the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives (OAMI). 

Named in honor of William Monroe Trotter (1872-1934) at an old house on the corner of South and East University Street, Trotter House opened for operation on November 15, 1971 and offered workshops for art students led by African American artists; sociology and psychology classes; orientation meetings for incoming students; academic and career counseling; a chess clinic; parties and dances; and a heavily attended weekly luncheon. After sustaining damage by a fire, the Trotter House was established on Washtenaw Avenue in 1972.

Trotter House continued to grow, and in 1981 Trotter House was renamed as the Trotter Multicultural Center, which supports a focus on intersectional liberation and intercultural collaboration. Today, the Trotter Multicultural Center centers U-M’s legacy of Black student activism and continues to provide intentional space for community engagement that promotes intercultural and multicultural engagement, racial healing, and transformative development across all generations and cultures.

Click here for more information on the history of the Trotter Multicultural Center.

Our Mission:

Our mission at the William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center is to build on our historical heritage of strengthening relationships and generating collective power that disrupts patterns of inequity, restores and celebrates cultural heritages, and cultivates racial healing within student experiences.

Our Collective Vision:

We envision the Trotter Multicultural Center as a space where equity, liberation, and cultural innovation are standard in the experiences of all. 

Our Core Work:

Intercultural Engagement: We provide programming and space for events that help students develop, understand, and demonstrate an ability to shift cultural perspective and adapt behavior to effectively navigate cultural similarity and difference based in race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, religion, age, class and other human differences. 

Multicultural Engagement: We provide programming and space for events that help students develop, understand, and demonstrate an ability to engage in open and ongoing communication that deepens their understanding and expression of identity, culture and heritage. This engagement complements identity development and multiculturalism within other student life experiences and the academic experience.

Wellbeing, Identity, and Contemplative Practices: We help students recover, cultivate, and experience a sense of belonging through intentional design and community use of our facility. We also provide space for reflection, meditation, prayer, and other contemplative practices that support holistic wellbeing and self-actualization. 

Transformative Development: We convene and co-create educational trainings, events, and informal gatherings that provide students with the knowledge, skills, and strategies to be active participants in creating social change on campus and in their communities.

Our Commitments:

  • Centering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)- We are committed to centering the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in our efforts to achieve intersectional liberation and promote healing-centered engagement for all members of our community.
  • Empowering student voice- We are committed to creating and maintaining space for students to amplify their voices to: 1. Contribute to developing and capturing collective narratives about student experiences and 2. Co-create new values within our community as we move towards equity.

  • Intergenerational learning and healing- We are committed to acknowledging the historical and contemporary impact of racial trauma, epistemic violence, and systemic inequities in higher education, thus we embrace Sankofa (a word in the Twi language of Ghana meaning “go back and get”) and Ubuntu (an ancient African word meaning “I am because we are”) as guideposts for generative learning, building mutual understanding, and restoring community.


    Trotter Multicultural Center History Project Team 

    Along with ongoing efforts to honor and celebrate the history of the Trotter Multicultural Center, the History Project Team is developing a multi-modal narrative of the history of the Trotter Multicultural Center and William Monroe Trotter.  

    • Elizabeth James, Program Associate, Department for Afroamerican and African Studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
    • Charles Ransom, Multicultural Studies Librarian, University Library
    • Edras Rodriguez-Torres, International Studies Librarian, University Library
    • Stephen Ward, Director, Semester in Detroit; Associate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and Associate Professor in the Residential College, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

    Related Contents:

    Trotter House Origins: How the battle for a bricks-and-mortar structure was really about moving racial integration from rhetoric to reality


    Timeline of William Monroe Trotter's Life

    Over the years, curiosity about the man for whom the William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center takes its name, peaked among faculty, staff, and students. Indeed, those with some sense of the Center’s history—those, in fact, who knew that the Trotter Multicultural Center emerged in the aftermath of the black student protest movement of the 1970s—and those with little-to-no knowledge of any of this social movement history, all began to wonder about William Monroe Trotter himself.