Bruce Nesbitt was born November 14, 1932 in Champaign. He was the son of Herbert E. Nesbitt, Sr. and Pauline Gillespie Nesbitt. He graduated from Champaign High School in 1951. He married CharLotte Neither in 1957. Together, they had five children.
Mr. Nesbitt served in the Army and held a number of jobs before joining the Champaign Police Department. During his first year on the force, he solved two murders and was named Rookie of the Year.
Then, Mr. Nesbitt went to work for the University of Illinois. He was first recruited as an official of the Housing Division. Then, in 1973, he became the first director of the Afro-American Cultural Programs office.
Mr. Nesbitt started a student-tutoring program at the Douglass Center and was president of the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club board. He either established or helped start the Moms Day Fashion Club, the Association of Black Alumni, and the Black Congratulatory Exercise. He also helped gain academic credit for members of the Black Chorus. He worked with the Iota Phi Theta fraternity. He was a member of the St. Luke CME Church.
Bruce Nesbitt passed away on June 14, 2000.
Opening in the fall of 1969, the former Afro-American Program at U of I was rededicated in 2004 in his honor, in response to calls from African American students. It was renamed as the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center (BNACC). Its mission is to serve as a vehicle for self-expression and leadership enhancement to students of African descent through the vehicles of workshops, seminars, and performing groups, and to promote campus-wide understanding of the unique contributions of African-Americans to the life and culture of the campus, the nations, and indeed, the world. The Bruce Nesbitt Scholarship Fund at the University of Illinois was also established in his honor.