Posts

A History Overlooked

By Lindsey Nair

MaKayla Lorick, winner of the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Washington and Lee University (W&L), can trace her love of stories to early childhood, when her grandparents told lively yarns about their younger years. She followed that thread to W&L, where it has afforded her the opportunity to seek and record some of the university’s most important overlooked tales.

Lorick, a senior English major, has been working since the summer of 2018 on a multi-institutional project that aims to incorporate more African-American perspectives into the history of desegregation and integration at private Southern schools. Her role allows her to comb through W&L’s Special Collections and gather oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

MaKayla Lorick received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Washington and Lee University in 2019.

“It’s such an exciting thing to dip your fingers into history and to listen to other people’s stories,” she said. “It betters your life and the lives of others. Just to color in one person’s perspective on history is beautiful.”

The overall project, “Pathway to Diversity: Uncovering Our Collections,” is a collaboration with Centre College and Sullivan Foundation partner schools Furman University and Rollins College, and is funded by a grant from Associated Colleges of the South (ACS). Along with its partner institutions, W&L is working to build a shared digital archive of information regarding the history of desegregation and integration at these schools. At W&L, the project is being led by Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of English Sydney Bufkin, with support from Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives.

The Slow Pace of Integration

Compared to public colleges and universities in the South, whose public status and reliance on federal funding forced them to integrate in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education, Bufkin said, “the history of integration at W&L looks very different. It’s quieter, but also less effective and slower. We are grappling with the consequences of a response to integration that really, when you look at the documents and history, appears to be an attempt to do as little as possible… It is a history that we continue to live, so I think recognizing some of the ways the institution has dealt with race—or not dealt with race—historically is really valuable and is something we can address a little more head-on, especially as we try to do things differently.”

Related: Learn more about how students like MaKayla Lorick qualify for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

Washington and Lee’s board of trustees did not take action regarding integration until a full decade after Brown vs. Board, in July 1964, with a statement that was viewed by most as deliberately vague and uninspired. Without using the words “integration,” “desegregation” or “race,” it simply stated that no policy of discrimination existed at W&L. It was accompanied by no effort to recruit students of color or make W&L a more welcoming place for them.

Another eight years passed before Carl Linwood Smothers and Walter Blake became the first African-American graduates of W&L in 1972. The W&L School of Law had awarded its first degree to a black student, Leslie Devan Smith Jr., in 1969.

 ‘Serendipity’
Initial goals for the ACS project included identifying materials currently in Special Collections that belong in the digital archive; creating an annotated bibliography; collecting oral histories from alumni, faculty and staff; and determining how to incorporate those materials into the curriculum. As Bufkin considered the oral history piece, she said, she immediately thought of Lorick, who had taken her African-American literature class.

photo MaKayla Lorick speaking to an audience

MaKayla Lorick has been combing through W&L’s Special Collections and gathering oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

English professor Lesley Wheeler agreed that Lorick, her advisee, would be a perfect fit, as she has an interest in digital humanities, and spent the summer of 2016 assisting history professor Ted DeLaney on an African-American history project in Special Collections. (Since becoming involved in the project, Lorick was also selected to be a member of the Working Group on the History of African Americans at W&L). Although the ACS grant does not cover student researchers, Bufkin was able to fund Lorick’s role with Mellon Digital Humanities summer research funding and, as the academic year commenced, with a Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship.

What started as a simple summer job search became something incredibly meaningful, Lorick said. “I thought I was just going to get some random summer job on campus but Professor Wheeler really opened a door with one tiny conversation. Stumbling onto this project is one of the best things that’s happened to me. It’s really serendipity.”

Lorick began by reading sections of Mame Warren’s 1998 history, “Come Cheer for Washington and Lee” and Blaine Brownell’s “Washington and Lee University: 1930-2000.” She also scoured yearbooks, scrapbooks, newspapers, letters and other sources in Special Collections to start a list of people to approach for oral histories.

While the project was initially focused on black men who graduated in 1974, the first year with a noteworthy number of black graduates (17), Lorick and Bufkin soon realized that scope was too narrow. They also knew that Warren had already collected oral histories from those men. Lorick wanted to include the perspectives of black women, who had not been interviewed for Warren’s book, so she began to build a list from the first few years of coeducation at W&L, from 1985-1990. She also wanted to include faculty and staff, not just alumni.

Recording History

Midway through the summer, it was time to start scheduling interviews. Over the next couple of months, she would record conversations with Ted Delaney ’85, associate professor of history at W&L and a Lexington native; Edwin Walker, a retired Print Shop employee; Stephanie Coleman ’89; Willard Dumas III ’91; and Marquita Dunn, who retired from Dining Services. These interviews included questions about the subject’s first impressions of Lexington and W&L, and their experiences connected to integration and/or coeducation.

Some interview subjects recalled negative experiences at Washington and Lee, such as a white boyfriend’s reluctance to escort his black girlfriend on the homecoming court, or white professors taking advantage of a black employee’s intellect and work ethic while denying him the respect and upward mobility he deserved. But Lorick said she was surprised to find that the interviews were, for the most part, positive.

“It ended up being more positive than I expected,” she said. “Interview subjects do not forget about the bad, but they are better able to remember the good.”

Lorick said she also had to work through some disappointment over the lack of detail provided about segregation in Lexington, particularly about the relationships between white and black citizens. “When the first individual told me that there was nothing more to say, I thought, there has to be! But as I began to unravel the project a little bit more, I thought more about what segregation must have looked like, and in the end they were totally right. They didn’t really know their neighbors, and that was just the culture.”

Recording these views and closing even the smallest gaps in W&L’s institutional history has been fulfilling, Lorick said. As a first-year student, she was frustrated by the lack of black perspectives in the archives; now, through her work as an upperclassman, she will be directly responsible for changing other students’ experiences.

“I thought that W&L wasn’t making a big enough effort to cover the staff, faculty, students and alumni. When I came upon this project, I knew that there was a choice that I had to make and it was exciting and thrilling. I get to go through these archives all the time and I see the people who have recorded history. This time, I’ll be the one recording history.”

Digging Deeper
One requirement of the ACS grant was that each of the four colleges incorporate findings into a course. At W&L, that course was “Race, Memory, Nation,” a first-year Fall Term writing seminar taught by Assistant English Professor Ricardo Wilson. Wilson spent considerable time with Bufkin and Lorick in Special Collections over the summer to develop the course, which delved into issues of race, integration and civil rights.

another photo showing MaKayla Lorick at work

MaKayla Lorick gets ready to conduct an interview as Professor Ricardo Wilson and his students look on. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

With guidance from Lorick and Wilson, the students conducted research and selected topics about which they were required to produce video essays as final projects in the course. The four groups decided to focus on integration in athletics, coeducation, and two pivotal moments in W&L history: the 1923 football game against Washington and Jefferson University, and the board of trustees’ 1961 decision to not invite Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at W&L.

The group that focused on integration in athletics secured on-camera interviews with four former W&L athletes, including its first African-American athlete, Dennis Haston ’70. Haston, who ran track and field, and former basketball player Eugene Perry ’75, ‘78L, recounted upsetting incidents both on and off campus. In one example, Perry was invited by a coach to try out for the basketball team, only to find out the team had already been selected and jerseys had been ordered. But the men said they also found allies at W&L, including white fellow athletes.

“At the time when I came to W&L, I didn’t come to W&L to be a pioneer. But now if people look at me, they want to say, ‘You were a pioneer.’” Haston said. “I was one of the first ones to … open the door for other African-Americans to come. Maybe because of me doing that, it has made it easier for other students to come. I’m glad I had the opportunity. If I had to live my life over again, I would still do it. I have no regrets about the decision I made.”

Related: Read MaKayla Lorick’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Biography here.

The hours of raw interview footage collected by Wilson’s students has been sent to Special Collections, where it will bolster Lorick’s contributions and strengthen the university’s overall archive of materials related to desegregation and integration. Wilson is cautiously optimistic about what he sees as positive strides toward confronting some of the university’s most difficult history and smoothing the way for future students of color.

“In general in the U.S., we have a tough time confronting our history, and W&L is certainly at a critical moment where I think there is great possibility,” he said. “It is also something we have to approach carefully because we have a chance to set the tone and make an example, not only in the region but also to other academic institutions.

“How fortunate we are to have someone like MaKayla Lorick, with a blend of extraordinary talent and extraordinary passion,” he said. “To have someone like her involved in this project is a good first step.”

Next Steps
MaKayla Lorick plans to present her findings during Black Alumni Reunion weekend (March 8-9). She also has received a Johnson Opportunity Grant for summer 2019, which will allow her to gather more oral histories and develop a digital exhibit. She has begun to share her findings on her project website. As she prepares to graduate in December 2019, she will hand off the project to other students. One, Rose Hein ’22, has already been awarded a summer research scholar position to contribute to the ACS project.

Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives at W&L, helps students in Professor Ricardo Wilson’s class, “Race, Memory, Nation,” as they begin research for their final projects. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

“Our hope is that this material and some of these questions will continue to be integrated into the classroom so students can be exposed and they can continue to work,” Bufkin said. “I think we are really excited to have this material support student-driven projects…It is a very collaborative effort. Nobody owns it or has a single direction.”

For MaKayla Lorick, what started as a two-month summer gig grew into an experience that she says “has really shaped me, has made me stronger, and has made me think that in a couple of years the university will truly be better.” She hopes that her daughter, Zara, 2, will someday become a General and will see her mother’s name on documents in university archives — a very different experience from her own.

“I can’t even imagine how that would have felt for me to see my mom’s name recording histories,” she said. “I hope that she can have that experience and she can know that anything is possible, that you can touch the stars and that you can be a history maker, and you can be on the right side of history, too.”

This story has been adapted slightly from the original version appearing on the Washington and Lee University website.

This Sullivan Award Winner Beat Breast Cancer and Helps Other Black Women Do the Same

Although breast cancer is less common in black women, they are 40 percent more likely to die from it than white women. Niasha Fray, a researcher at Sullivan Foundation partner school Duke University, understands that worrisome statistic better than most: After spending part of her career counseling women with breast cancer to stick with their treatment, she was diagnosed with the disease herself in 2017.

But Fray, now the program director for the Duke Center for Community & Population Health Improvement, didn’t let breast cancer get in the way of serving others. She was one of three recipients of the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Duke, and her experience as a breast cancer survivor and her work in promoting health and behavior change for at-risk populations also earned coverage by NPR in 2018.

Each year Duke University recognizes a graduating senior and a member of the faculty, staff or graduate student body with the Sullivan Award. In addition to Fray, Duke presented the award to two students in 2019—Idalis French, a psychology major, and Moreen Njoroge, an evolutionary anthropology major.

Niasha Fray: Helping Women Survive Breast Cancer

Fray’s selflessness inspired her colleagues to nominate her for the award. “Every time I have known her to make a commitment to help others, I have seen her follow through in a way that surpasses the expectations of those she is serving,” wrote nominator Helene Milve, a medical instructor in the Duke Department of Population Health Sciences.

Related: Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner shares untold stories of African-Americans at Washington and Lee University

Fray works on health promotion, behavior change and counseling for at-risk populations affected by HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress and breast cancer. She also is a guest lecturer in the course, ”AIDS: Principles and Policy,” at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is a member of Healthy Durham 20/20, an organization working to improve the health and quality of life for the Durham community.

this photo shows Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Niasha Fray

Niasha Fray (right) accepts the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth. (Photo by Les Todd)

As a counselor researching disparities in cancer outcomes at UNC-Chapel Hill, she used a type of therapy called motivational interviewing to help women overcome obstacles that deterred them from taking their medications, which often have unpleasant side effects. “They had just given up so much of their lives, so much of their bodies, so much of their family,” Fray told NPR in October 2018. “They wanted to get back to life as usual.”

As NPR reported, studies have found that black women are less likely to have health insurance or to get screened for breast cancer, which means their cancer is often advanced by the time they get into treatment. They’re also less likely to stick with the prolonged daily endocrine therapy treatment prescribed for certain common types of breast cancer, often because they can’t afford it and the medications are so unpleasant. One study noted that 14 percent of black women didn’t take their medications every day as prescribed, compared to about 5 percent of white women.

Fray told NPR the disparity might also have something to do with the fact that so many black women identify strongly as caregivers. As a counselor, she found that black women were often more accustomed to looking after others than themselves. “There was a lot of conversation about the stress of being a caregiver,” Fray told NPR. She said she had many discussions with patients about “the stress of being a black person in America and having doctors not listen to you, having employers that don’t care about you.”

Fray underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer during the summer of 2018, and her prognosis is good, according to NPR. But the battle continues as she faces 10 long years of endocrine therapy. “You gotta get your mind right,” she said in the interview. “You can’t change the scenario or the situation. How do I change my mind?”

Related: Rollins College remembers Mister Rogers, a 2001 winner of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Fray continues to help other black women “put on the armor of self-care” while conducting her research at Duke, making her a strong choice for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. “This award is for the people making sure our world, our community, our families and ourselves are healthy,” Fray said in accepting the award last April. “I’m so lucky to serve a community I care for so much.”

Idalis French: A Passion for Uplifting Others
Idalis French was selected for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for her work mentoring young girls in the Durham, N.C. community.

Since her first year on campus, French devoted time and energy to The Girls’ Club, a mentorship organization at the Emily K Center for middle school girls attending Durham Public Schools. French served as a mentor, vice president of recruitment and president for the organization. She led weekly sessions about mental health, female empowerment and confidence.

this photo shows Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Idalis French

Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth (left) presents the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to Idalis French. (Photo by Les Todd)

“She shows a natural inclination toward selflessness, empathy and understanding with mentees and mentors alike,” wrote nominator Madeline Farber, a Duke clinical psychology Ph.D. student. “To see a woman of her age with such fervent passion for uplifting others is quite remarkable.”

French also volunteered with the Durham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, where she kept residents company in their rooms, played bingo with them and facilitated arts and crafts.

“There are not enough words to express my gratitude,” French said. “To know that I’m leaving Duke with the impact I intended to leave it with freshman year is so inspiring and such a great blessing.”

Moreen Njoroge: From Carolina to Kenya

Duke’s Sullivan Award committee chose senior Moreen Njoroge for her work across disciplines and continents.

Njoroge majored in evolutionary anthropology major with minors in chemistry and global health. She has studied in Spain, India and Kenya. In Kenya, Njoroge worked with village chiefs, community health workers and hospital administrators to analyze what causes women to not receive treatment for cervical cancer.

Related: Sullivan Award winner overcame poverty, racism to earn National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship

this photo shows Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Moreen Njoroge

Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth (left) presents the university’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to Moreen Njoroge. (Photo by Les Todd)

“Moreen is experienced, focused, determined and self-directed. She sets high standards for her work and constantly meets them,” wrote nominator Colleen Scott, director of Duke’s Baldwin Scholars Program. “She is eager to have a better understanding of health needs in underserved regions and populations and will not be satisfied with simply possessing this knowledge.”

For two years Njoroge worked as an English and mathematics tutor for refugee students in the America Reads/America Counts program. She was also an Alice M. Baldwin Scholar, a program that supports undergraduate women at Duke to become engaged, confident and connected leaders to the community.

“This award may have my name on it, but it belongs to everybody who has been guiding me on this journey,” Njoroge said. “I’m so grateful for the education I’ve received and the confidence I have gained at Duke.”

This story was adapted from Jonathan Black’s article appearing on the Duke University website and from an October 9, 2019 NPR report.

Sullivan Award Winner Shares Untold Stories of African-Americans at Washington and Lee University

By Lindsey Nair

MaKayla Lorick, winner of the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Washington and Lee University (W&L), can trace her love of stories to early childhood, when her grandparents told lively yarns about their younger years. She followed that thread to W&L, where it has afforded her the opportunity to seek and record some of the university’s most important overlooked tales.

Lorick, an English major who is minoring in creative writing, has been working since the summer of 2018 on a multi-institutional project that aims to incorporate more African-American perspectives into the history of desegregation and integration at private Southern schools. Her role allows her to comb through W&L’s Special Collections and gather oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

MaKayla Lorick received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Washington and Lee University in 2019.

“It’s such an exciting thing to dip your fingers into history and to listen to other people’s stories,” she said. “It betters your life and the lives of others. Just to color in one person’s perspective on history is beautiful.”

The overall project, “Pathway to Diversity: Uncovering Our Collections,” is a collaboration with Centre College and Sullivan Foundation partner schools Furman University and Rollins College, and is funded by a grant from Associated Colleges of the South (ACS). Along with its partner institutions, W&L is working to build a shared digital archive of information regarding the history of desegregation and integration at these schools. At W&L, the project is being led by Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of English Sydney Bufkin, with support from Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives.

Compared to public colleges and universities in the South, whose public status and reliance on federal funding forced them to integrate in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education, Bufkin said, “the history of integration at W&L looks very different. It’s quieter, but also less effective and slower. We are grappling with the consequences of a response to integration that really, when you look at the documents and history, appears to be an attempt to do as little as possible… It is a history that we continue to live, so I think recognizing some of the ways the institution has dealt with race—or not dealt with race—historically is really valuable and is something we can address a little more head-on, especially as we try to do things differently.”

Related: Learn more about how students like MaKayla Lorick qualify for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

Washington and Lee’s board of trustees did not take action regarding integration until a full decade after Brown vs. Board, in July 1964, with a statement that was viewed by most as deliberately vague and uninspired. Without using the words “integration,” “desegregation” or “race,” it simply stated that no policy of discrimination existed at W&L. It was accompanied by no effort to recruit students of color or make W&L a more welcoming place for them.

Another eight years passed before Carl Linwood Smothers and Walter Blake became the first African-American graduates of W&L in 1972. The W&L School of Law had awarded its first degree to a black student, Leslie Devan Smith Jr., in 1969.

 ‘Serendipity’
Initial goals for the ACS project included identifying materials currently in Special Collections that belong in the digital archive; creating an annotated bibliography; collecting oral histories from alumni, faculty and staff; and determining how to incorporate those materials into the curriculum. As Bufkin considered the oral history piece, she said, she immediately thought of Lorick, who had taken her African-American literature class.

photo MaKayla Lorick speaking to an audience

MaKayla Lorick has been combing through W&L’s Special Collections and gathering oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

English professor Lesley Wheeler agreed that Lorick, her advisee, would be a perfect fit, as she has an interest in digital humanities, and spent the summer of 2016 assisting history professor Ted DeLaney on an African-American history project in Special Collections. (Since becoming involved in the project, Lorick was also selected to be a member of the Working Group on the History of African Americans at W&L). Although the ACS grant does not cover student researchers, Bufkin was able to fund Lorick’s role with Mellon Digital Humanities summer research funding and, as the academic year commenced, with a Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship.

What started as a simple summer job search became something incredibly meaningful, Lorick said. “I thought I was just going to get some random summer job on campus but Professor Wheeler really opened a door with one tiny conversation. Stumbling onto this project is one of the best things that’s happened to me. It’s really serendipity.”

Lorick began by reading sections of Mame Warren’s 1998 history, “Come Cheer for Washington and Lee” and Blaine Brownell’s “Washington and Lee University: 1930-2000.” She also scoured yearbooks, scrapbooks, newspapers, letters and other sources in Special Collections to start a list of people to approach for oral histories.

While the project was initially focused on black men who graduated in 1974, the first year with a noteworthy number of black graduates (17), Lorick and Bufkin soon realized that scope was too narrow. They also knew that Warren had already collected oral histories from those men. Lorick wanted to include the perspectives of black women, who had not been interviewed for Warren’s book, so she began to build a list from the first few years of coeducation at W&L, from 1985-1990. She also wanted to include faculty and staff, not just alumni.

Related: Rollins College Remembers Alumnus and Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Fred Rogers

Midway through the summer, it was time to start scheduling interviews. Over the next couple of months, she would record conversations with Ted Delaney ’85, associate professor of history at W&L and a Lexington native; Edwin Walker, a retired Print Shop employee; Stephanie Coleman ’89; Willard Dumas III ’91; and Marquita Dunn, who retired from Dining Services. These interviews included questions about the subject’s first impressions of Lexington and W&L, and their experiences connected to integration and/or coeducation.

Some interview subjects recalled negative experiences at Washington and Lee, such as a white boyfriend’s reluctance to escort his black girlfriend on the homecoming court, or white professors taking advantage of a black employee’s intellect and work ethic while denying him the respect and upward mobility he deserved. But Lorick said she was surprised to find that the interviews were, for the most part, positive.

“It ended up being more positive than I expected,” she said. “Interview subjects do not forget about the bad, but they are better able to remember the good.”

Related: Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Joey Jennings overcame racism and poverty to become a top scholar/athlete at Winthrop University

Lorick said she also had to work through some disappointment over the lack of detail provided about segregation in Lexington, particularly about the relationships between white and black citizens. “When the first individual told me that there was nothing more to say, I thought, there has to be! But as I began to unravel the project a little bit more, I thought more about what segregation must have looked like, and in the end they were totally right. They didn’t really know their neighbors, and that was just the culture.”

Recording these views and closing even the smallest gaps in W&L’s institutional history has been fulfilling, Lorick said. As a first-year student, she was frustrated by the lack of black perspectives in the archives; now, through her work as an upperclassman, she will be directly responsible for changing other students’ experiences.

“I thought that W&L wasn’t making a big enough effort to cover the staff, faculty, students and alumni. When I came upon this project, I knew that there was a choice that I had to make and it was exciting and thrilling. I get to go through these archives all the time and I see the people who have recorded history. This time, I’ll be the one recording history.”

Digging Deeper
One requirement of the ACS grant was that each of the four colleges incorporate findings into a course. At W&L, that course was “Race, Memory, Nation,” a first-year Fall Term writing seminar taught by Assistant English Professor Ricardo Wilson. Wilson spent considerable time with Bufkin and Lorick in Special Collections over the summer to develop the course, which delved into issues of race, integration and civil rights.

another photo showing MaKayla Lorick at work

MaKayla Lorick gets ready to conduct an interview as Professor Ricardo Wilson and his students look on. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

With guidance from Lorick and Wilson, the students conducted research and selected topics about which they were required to produce video essays as final projects in the course. The four groups decided to focus on integration in athletics, coeducation, and two pivotal moments in W&L history: the 1923 football game against Washington and Jefferson University, and the board of trustees’ 1961 decision to not invite Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at W&L.

The group that focused on integration in athletics secured on-camera interviews with four former W&L athletes, including its first African-American athlete, Dennis Haston ’70. Haston, who ran track and field, and former basketball player Eugene Perry ’75, ‘78L, recounted upsetting incidents both on and off campus. In one example, Perry was invited by a coach to try out for the basketball team, only to find out the team had already been selected and jerseys had been ordered. But the men said they also found allies at W&L, including white fellow athletes.

“At the time when I came to W&L, I didn’t come to W&L to be a pioneer. But now if people look at me, they want to say, ‘You were a pioneer.’” Haston said. “I was one of the first ones to … open the door for other African-Americans to come. Maybe because of me doing that, it has made it easier for other students to come. I’m glad I had the opportunity. If I had to live my life over again, I would still do it. I have no regrets about the decision I made.”

Related: Read MaKayla Lorick’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Biography here.

The hours of raw interview footage collected by Wilson’s students has been sent to Special Collections, where it will bolster Lorick’s contributions and strengthen the university’s overall archive of materials related to desegregation and integration. Wilson is cautiously optimistic about what he sees as positive strides toward confronting some of the university’s most difficult history and smoothing the way for future students of color.

“In general in the U.S., we have a tough time confronting our history, and W&L is certainly at a critical moment where I think there is great possibility,” he said. “It is also something we have to approach carefully because we have a chance to set the tone and make an example, not only in the region but also to other academic institutions.

“How fortunate we are to have someone like MaKayla Lorick, with a blend of extraordinary talent and extraordinary passion,” he said. “To have someone like her involved in this project is a good first step.”

Next Steps
MaKayla Lorick plans to present her findings during Black Alumni Reunion weekend (March 8-9). She also has received a Johnson Opportunity Grant for summer 2019, which will allow her to gather more oral histories and develop a digital exhibit. She has begun to share her findings on her project website. As she prepares to graduate in December 2019, she will hand off the project to other students. One, Rose Hein ’22, has already been awarded a summer research scholar position to contribute to the ACS project.

Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives at W&L, helps students in Professor Ricardo Wilson’s class, “Race, Memory, Nation,” as they begin research for their final projects. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

“Our hope is that this material and some of these questions will continue to be integrated into the classroom so students can be exposed and they can continue to work,” Bufkin said. “I think we are really excited to have this material support student-driven projects…It is a very collaborative effort. Nobody owns it or has a single direction.”

For MaKayla Lorick, what started as a two-month summer gig grew into an experience that she says “has really shaped me, has made me stronger, and has made me think that in a couple of years the university will truly be better.” She hopes that her daughter, Zara, 2, will someday become a General and will see her mother’s name on documents in university archives — a very different experience from her own.

“I can’t even imagine how that would have felt for me to see my mom’s name recording histories,” she said. “I hope that she can have that experience and she can know that anything is possible, that you can touch the stars and that you can be a history maker, and you can be on the right side of history, too.”

This story has been adapted slightly from the original version appearing on the Washington and Lee University website.

The Right Track

Growing up in Jefferson City, Tennessee, Joey Jennings dealt with racism and poverty every day throughout his youth. Now the recent Winthrop University graduate, winner of the school’s prestigious 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, is on his way to earning his Ph.D., thanks to a highly coveted Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

Jennings was one of only three sociology undergraduates nationwide to receive the fellowship, which provides him with a full ride at the University of Maryland-College Park. But the scholar-athlete, who holds two Winthrop records as a track star, had to clear major hurdles to get to where he is today.

“Why Do They Hate Me?”
Playing on a Little League football team introduced Jennings to the harsh reality of racism when he was only nine years old. He didn’t see himself as different from any of his teammates—until someone referred to him with a racial slur.

“I vividly remember asking my dad, ‘Why do they hate me?’” he said. “He stood up for me and put a stop to the name calling, but it did not ease my heart. I was able to grasp that the reason I was treated differently was related to my skin tone. As a result, I was not proud of my color for a long time.”

Joey Jennings set new records for the indoor and outdoor pole vault at Winthrop University and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

Jennings “fully experienced rock bottom” in Jefferson City. In addition to the heavy racial tension, his family struggled with poverty, sometimes not having enough food on the table or going days without electricity. “Then, everything got more difficult when I witnessed my mother being taken to jail numerous times because of her losing battles with cocaine addiction,” he said. “We struggled, it was tough, but my family is strong. My dad raised my siblings and I to fight, and that made me the man I am today.”

“It is because I have witnessed numerous types of adversity and injustice, or a lack of proper justice, firsthand that I want to further my academic career in sociology and engage in social research with the hopes that I can uncover social injustice,” he added.

Jennings wanted to understand the questions from his past and felt that the sociology program’s criminology concentration would help him do just that; specifically, it would sate his appetite for research. He also signed on to compete in track and field at the Division I level.

Studying Police Brutality
For one of his research projects, Jennings examined police brutality over a 23-year period through a public opinion survey. The survey asked participants for responses to racial relations after the Rodney King incident (1991) and the Freddie Gray incident (2015). He then reached out to Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts after reading Pitts’ series on what people can do to help and studied online newspaper comments referencing the Baltimore riots.

“The analysis showed that, during the 23-year period between the observed riots, public opinions on prejudice were related to systematic discrimination practices that led to marginalization of inner-city minority communities,” Jennings explained. “In turn, these communities find in riots an opportunity to bring public awareness to their constant criminalization, invisibility in the criminal justice system and marginalization.”

While simultaneously taking 14 credit hours, practicing track 20 hours a week and competing almost every weekend, he presented his research at the Southern Sociological Society Conference and Winthrop’s Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors. He also spent the summer of 2018 at the NSF research program at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, researching Charlotte’s homicide hotspots with a group and presenting at UNC-C’s symposium and the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association.

The Best at Both
Along the way, Jennings set new records for Winthrop’s indoor and outdoor pole vault and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.  “It takes a lot of dedication to my crafts,” Jennings said. “School and track are equally important to me, but early on, I learned that to be great in both I had to treat them as separate entities. When I was at class, what happened at the track, good or bad, had to be out of my mind and vice versa. I spent hours studying for class and for track. I wanted to be the best in both, so I gave all I had each day to everything. That is how I was raised.”

After graduating from Winthrop this past May, Jennings now looks to the future. “I know I want to make a difference; I want to enact change,” he said. “The Ph.D. is a start for me to work as an activist, to create change, and to shine an academic light on social issues that have been dark for some time now. I love learning, and I want to use my strengths to help marginalized people and answer the questions I faced as a youth.”

This story was adapted from an article by Nicole Chisari, communications coordinator at Winthrop University.

 

Ashli Watts Honored with Sullivan Award from Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University (CU) honored alumnus Ashli Watts, the senior VP of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, with the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for her longtime service to the community.

Dr. Michael V. Carter, along with Board of Trustees Chairman Henry Lee and Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, presented the award to Watts.

Watts joined the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in November of 2012.  Before that, she worked at the Kentucky Bar Association and the Legislative Research Commission. She graduated from Campbellsville University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history in 2004 and holds a master’s degree in public policy and administration from the University of Louisville.

“During her time at Campbellsville University, Ashli was very active in campus life, served as Student Government Association president, was an academic honors graduate, and participated in a number of student activities and organizations,” Carter said.

As a member of the board of directors of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, Watts works to raise awareness about issues related to preventing child abuse and neglect. She and her family are active members of First United Methodist Church in Frankfort, where she lives with her husband Ryan and their two children, Emma and Carter.

CU was selected in 2002 to participate in the Sullivan Awards program, which honors the memory and legacy of the late Algernon Sydney Sullivan and his wife, Mary Mildred Sullivan.

Jessica Johnson was CU’s student recipient of the Sullivan Award. Read more about her here.

Campbellsville University Honors Jessica Johnson with Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

By Ian McAninch

Jessica Johnson of Clarkson, Ky. was the student recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Campbellsville University’s commencement ceremony.

CU president Dr. Michael V. Carter, Board of Trustees Chairman Henry Lee and Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, presented the award to Johnson.

Carter highlighted Johnson’s time at Campbellsville University before presenting the award.  “While at CU, Jessica has been involved in many activities,” Carter said. “She has been a member of the dean’s list and has worked as an intern in the Office of Enrollment since the spring of 2016 and served as a Presidential Ambassador since the fall of 2015.

“Jessica is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Alpha Lambda Delta. She has served as a natural science tutor and has been involved in numerous other activities. Just two weeks ago, Jessica was honored with numerous academic awards and was named Miss Campbellsville for 2018-2019.”

“Through her work in the Office of Enrollment the past three years, she has exemplified and surpassed the expectation of a Campbellsville graduate. She has been a very active member of the Student Government Association (SGA) for the last three years by serving as SGA secretary.

“She has served as secretary of the Pre-professional Health Society and is a founding member, where she has played a vital part to help students in the pre-professional program come together in their search for graduate and professional schools.”

“During her spare time, she has served as a seasonal optometric technician where she has gained valuable experience that she can take with her to graduate school. Jessica has been accepted to the Kentucky College of Optometry at the University of Pikeville and will begin there later this summer.”

Carter said, “It has been quoted that, ‘Jess has been an integral part of the dual credit team and a joy to work alongside. Her maturity and work ethic showed daily but what I love most about her is how she displays Christian servant leadership not only with her colleagues in the Office of Enrollment but also throughout the many activities she is involved in. I look forward to see what the future holds for her and those lives she will change along the way.  She is a great friend!’”

Johnson is the daughter of Patricia Johnson of Clarkson, Ky., and David Johnson of Leitchfield, Ky.

“We are very honored this morning to present the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards for the 11th consecutive year,” Carter noted. “Campbellsville University was selected in 2002 to participate in this very prestigious awards program that honors the memory and legacy of the late Algernon Sydney Sullivan.”

“Mr. Sullivan was a lawyer, devout Christian, mediator, a powerful and appealing orator, a courageous citizen during perilous times, a noted philanthropist, and a devoted family man.  In the words of a friend, Sullivan ‘reached out both hands in constant helpfulness to others.’”

This story was edited slightly from the original version on the Campbellsville University website.

Alice Lloyd College Recognizes Two Outstanding Servant Leaders With Sullivan Awards

Sullivan Foundation partner school Alice Lloyd College recently recognized Kennedi Alexis Damron and John Mark Driskill with prestigious Sullivan Awards for outstanding servant leadership.

Damron, a former ALC cheerleader and tennis player, received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award. She teaches at Emmalena Elementary School in Knott County, Kentucky, and has previously won the Alice Lloyd College Scholar Athlete Award and the Alice Lloyd College Leadership Award. Her volunteer activities run the gamut from collecting and distributing food baskets for needy families to delivering gifts and organizing a Veterans Day program at the East Kentucky Veterans Center. Damron has volunteered with the KY River Animal Shelter and Operation Christmas Child and helped distribute Christmas items to more than 500 needy area children in 2014.

Kennedi Alexis Damron

As part of her Read Across America service, Damron partnered with the Kentucky Educational Association to reach out to community schools and celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with classroom reading and activities. She also worked with the Appalachian Regional Hospital during Heart Month, providing free screenings and raising heart health awareness through informational lunches with physician speakers. For Emmalena Elementary Kindness Week in November 2016, she planned activities to promote kindness at her school, including creating a kindness wall and a giving tree.

An ALC statement describes Damron as “a highly organized young lady” with “strong community ties that make her a great teacher.”

“From the abovementioned activities, one can easily recognize that Kennedi is a person of outstanding character, is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others, and impacts her community in a positive way on many levels,” according to ALC. “Her Christian walk and service to others is a high priority in her life and is evident to all who know her. She was a wonderful student ambassador for Alice Lloyd College and a great role model for others.  Kennedi is a very intelligent person and demonstrates a strong work ethic.”

John Mark Driskill

Driskill, recipient of this year’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, is “an exceptional young man who will certainly leave his mark on the world,” the school stated. A member of the ALC Cross Country team and Acoustic Ensemble,  Driskill won the Alice Lloyd College Scholar-Athlete Award and the Campus Spirit Award in 2017 along with many other accolades.

He was hired by ALC as a supervisor over student activities for the goal of improving retention, the school said. He has been active with the Campus Ministries Leadership Team, served as a small-group Bible study leader, interned with the Rural Church Development Alliance and served as a Bethel Mennonite camp counselor.

“John possesses strong leadership traits and high energy while leading,” the school said. “He strives to glorify God in all he does … John enjoys sharing his faith and giving back to his community. He has a strong positive outlook on life.”