Dr. Deonte Hollowell, Program Director of African American Studies, talks about the importance of Black History Month and how Spalding is celebrating with art displays at the Huff Gallery and the 5th Annual Elmer Lucille Conference on African American Studies.

Transcript:

What do you wish people knew about Black History Month?

Dr. Deonte Hollowell: I wish that people knew about Black History Month that it has come a long way and that it has nothing to do with the shortness of the month of  February and has more to do with the mind and the mentality of Dr. Carter G. Woodson who created it as negro history week.

Why is Black History Month important?

Dr. Deonte Hollowell: The importance of  Black History Month can can never be understated  when Dr. Carter G Wilson came up with the idea of having negro history week a lot of us in our in the black community were excited about that and as time goes on sometimes we can belittle or can kind of understate the importance of representing our history that is important to us and should be every single day.

I love the opportunity to get to present black history to the rest of the world for an entire month and  I like that students have the opportunity as well to learn more about the black experience and students of all races and people of our races  get a chance to really appreciate the black experience for what it’s worth and hopefully it influences them to not only do that for the 28  days of February but to really incorporate that in their daily lives specifically when it as it pertains to how they treat black people.

How is Spalding celebrating?

Dr. Deonte Hollowell: The great thing is at Spalding we have the Huff Gallery in which we’ll have all month the  whole month of February to present art that is  important to black people and reflect affects  the black struggle and black accomplishment.

Who is Elmer Lucille Allen?

Dr. Deonte Hollowell: So for African-American studies this will be our  fourth annual Elmer Lucille Allen conference  on African American studies Elmer Lucille Allen is one of our first African-American graduates of the  Sisters of Charity of Nazareth she’s a dear friend of mine and I’m very proud of her. She was the first African-American  chemist hired at Brown Foreman and also she is a  great artist nowadays and so our conference  is February 23rd and 24th always the last  week of February and it gives us a chance to  honor and appreciate Elmer Lucille Allen for her contributions by presenting academic  papers by presenting creative arts, and also just people talking about  the work that they’re doing in the community.

Spalding University’s Black Student Alliance will host a virtual edition of one its signature events on Wednesday and Thursday with the third annual Elmer Lucille Allen Conference on African American Studies.

Allen, a 1953 graduate of Spalding (then called Nazareth College) who became the first Black chemist at Brown-Forman, will also be one of the featured presenters at the conference. Allen, an accomplished artist who specializes in ceramics, will give a presentation about her art at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s conference will be presented virtually via HD Meeting.  Dr. Deonte Hollowell, Spalding Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies and the BSA’s faculty advisor, will help lead the conference, which is free and open to the public. The full conference schedule can be found below.

SPALDING BLACK STUDENT ALLIANCE
*BSA provides supportive space for students
*Faculty Focus Q&A | BSA Advisor Deonte Hollowell

*Follow the BSA on Instagram at @spaldingbsa
*Email [email protected] for more info

2021 Elmer Lucille Allen Conference on African American Studies

Presented by Spalding University, the Black Student Alliance and the West Louisville Women’s Collaborative

Day 1, Wednesday Feb. 24, 2021

12:30 p.m. – Introduction – Dr. Hollowell & BSA (Program Preview)

12:45 – Statements from the Writing Center and Spalding Equity Groups

1– 2:30 – HIST 383 Student Presentations – Works in Progress

4 – Performance by Alex Betts (Waterworks Dance Company)

4:30–5:30 – AAS 300 Student Presentations – Works in Progress

5:45 – 6:45 – Local Grassroots Organizer’s Forum

Day 2, Thursday Feb. 25

3:30-4 – BSA Day One Overview/Day Two Preview

4:15 – Student Presentations – Internships and Research Assistants

5:30–6 – WLWC Presents A Hip Hop Tribute to Elmer Lucille Allen

6– The Artistic Contributions of Elmer Lucille Allen

Closing Remarks from Spalding President Tori Murden McClure, Dr. Hollowell, Dean of Undergraduate Education Dr. Tomarra Adams, Dean of Students Janelle Rae

Spalding University is spotlighting members of its campus community every Friday during Black History Month, including, this week, the Black Student Alliance student organization. 

Since 2018, the Black Student Alliance (BSA) has existed at Spalding to provide advocacy and a social network for Black students as they navigate college.

During a year in which Louisville and the country have been focused strongly on issues related to racial equity and justice, the BSA has provided an important space for students of color to communicate with each other and feel supported.

“We have been able to provide a sense of community for Black and Brown students on campus,” said Savasia Thompson, who is in her second year as BSA President. “Especially now and recently, with the Black Lives Matter protests and the death of Breonna Taylor, we have just been trying to support. … We try to touch Spalding’s Black and Brown populations in several ways – socially, educationally. We know there are lots of issues our students are facing, and we are trying to help supplement and create resolutions for that.”

Thompson, a senior majoring in creative writing, said the organization has advocated on behalf of Black students on issues around campus while always working to promote a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The BSA also hosted a welcoming mixer last fall for first-year students of color to meet each other and faculty members, and Thompson said the BSA has supported the enhancement of the Pelican Pantry as resource for any member of the Spalding community who be experiencing food insecurity.

The organization also sponsors educational programming throughout the year, with one of its signature events on tap next week – a virtual edition of the third annual Elmer Lucille Allen Conference on African American Studies. The conference, named for the 1953 Spalding (then Nazareth College) grad who became the first Black chemist at Brown-Forman as well as a highly accomplished artist, will take place Wednesday-Thursday, Feb. 24-25. It includes a presentation on Thursday from Allen, showcasing her artwork.

The conference is free and open to the public. (SEE FULL SCHEDULE AT BOTTOM OF STORY)

MORE | Follow the BSA on Instragram at @spaldingbsa | Email [email protected] for info

BSA meetings during the 2020-21 academic year have been limited, but post-pandemic, the organization expects to meet more regularly. During 2019-20, they met every week, and sessions included a check-in period in which members could share concerns and experiences that often then were shared with university leaders.

The BSA was founded in 2018 by then-Spalding student Jerre Crenshaw, a Liberal Studies major who was one of the first students to graduate with the university’s new minor in African American Studies. She developed the BSA as part of her praxis credit of the minor. Dr. Deonte Hollowell, an assistant professor of history and African American Studies who leads the AAS minor, is the BSA’s faculty advisor.

Spalding BSA President Savasia Thompson
Spalding BSA President Savasia Thompson

Thompson, a graduate of Manual High School, said she was eager to get involved in student organizations when she got to Spalding. She put her name on the ballot for a few BSA leadership positions, and ended up being elected president.

“I do find it to be a great honor to be president because I have a very good relationship with so many entities around Spalding,” she said. “I know a lot of people in financial aid, a lot of people in the Writing Center, where I also work, a lot of people in Human Resources. I’m very familiar with the campus, and I thought, ‘Well, if I want to make a difference, why not start at home (and get involved on campus)?'”

Thompson said the national attention that was cast on issues of race in 2020 was important because it showed the country “that there is a lot of work to be done” to achieve equity and justice in the United States.

Thompson said that her family has always provided an opportunity for her to share her feelings and emotions regarding racial issues and experiences, but that she knows not all of her peers have had that opportunity.

“So I hope that I’ve been able to support them,” said Thompson, who used to be a neighbor of David McAtee and who has friend who was a close friend of Breonna Taylor. “All these different issues have hit very close to home.”

2021 Elmer Lucille Allen Conference on African American Studies

Presented by Spalding University, the Black Student Alliance and the West Louisville Women’s Collaborative

Day 1, Wednesday Feb. 24, 2021

12:30 p.m. – Introduction – Dr. Hollowell & BSA (Program Preview)

12:45 – Statements from the Writing Center and Spalding Equity Groups

1– 2:30 – HIST 383 Student Presentations – Works in Progress

4 – Performance by Alex Betts (Waterworks Dance Company)

4:30–5:30 – AAS 300 Student Presentations – Works in Progress

5:45 – 6:45 – Local Grassroots Organizer’s Forum

Day 2, Thursday Feb. 25

3:30-4 – BSA Day One Overview/Day Two Preview

4:15 – Student Presentations – Internships and Research Assistants

5:30–6 – WLWC Presents A Hip Hop Tribute to Elmer Lucille Allen

6– The Artistic Contributions of Elmer Lucille Allen

Closing Remarks from Spalding President Tori Murden McClure, Dr. Hollowell, Dean of Undergraduate Education Dr. Tomarra Adams, Dean of Students Janelle Rae

 

 

 

 

With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Jerre Crenshaw, who is receiving the degree of bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary liberal studies.

After Jerre Crenshaw transferred to Spalding University in 2016, she immediately sought out a organization on campus where she could discuss social issues pertaining to the black community.

When she realized one didn’t exist, she worked to create one herself.

Crenshaw is the leader of the Black Student Alliance that officially formed last fall, and she said helping make it a reality is a proud accomplishment that she’ll take with her when she graduates this weekend.

“I knew Spalding’s mission statement says it is diverse community of learners, so when I came to Spalding, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do,” she said.

Crenshaw said she got approval and encouragement across the board from Spalding faculty and administrators when she sought to create a Black Student Alliance, and she said the organization now has at least 10 active members who take part in programs and events on Spalding’s campus and on other campuses.

Additionally, Crenshaw said she is excited to  be one of the first students ever to graduate from Spalding having earned the new minor in African-American Studies. The creation of the BSA served as the praxis credit for the AAS minor.

“Sometimes in school you don’t hear history that pertains to you when you’re a person of color, so having that opportunity to really learn more about myself culturally as well as other African Diaspora people was really important to me,” she said. “I’ve really been happy with the courses I’ve been able to take. They’ve really widened my horizons and opened up my mind to new possibilities of thinking and viewing the world.”

Crenshaw, an alumna of the Academy of Shawnee, has enjoyed being in the liberal studies program at Spalding, saying all her professors have been “very compassionate and genuine and helpful.”

They’ve supported both her academic career, she said, “and me developing as a decent human being who critically thinks and questions things thoroughly.”

After earning her bachelor’s, Crenshaw plans to attend graduate school, and she would like to pursue a career in population health, providing resources that help eliminate health inequities for people from certain socioeconomic backgrounds.

“With Spalding being the first certified compassionate university,” she said, “I think it showed me the value of systematic compassion and that compassion can be implemented into a system. That was initially a thought that was far away from me, but it’s been contextualized by being here.”

Here’s more from Jerre Crenshaw …

What’s your favorite Spalding memory? 
My first day of class, it was over the summer and burning up hot, and I went to the wrong building and sat there for 20 minutes until I realized, “Maybe I’m in the wrong spot,” and looked up the addresses. But it’s my favorite memory because I ended up in the Mansion, which turned out to be one of my favorite spots on campus. It kind of reminds me of my high school with the wooden fixtures. So I discovered my favorite place.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of from your time at Spalding?
The creation of the BSA, of course. Being able to be senator of liberal studies this year and last year. And I think I’ve really improved as a responsible person and citizen.

What is your favorite spot on campus? The Mansion, as you said earlier?
Yes, the Mansion, right by the piano. Shawnee is an old building, so you can hear the creaks when you walk, and I got used to doing work in that kind of space, and I really missed it. It kind of brought me home away from home (to be in the Mansion).

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world-changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
I want to take my skills into the development of compassion as a system and take it to the outside world. So I’ve been looking at volunteering with the Big Brothers Big Sisters or through the judicial system and with kids who are in foster care. I want to be a part of giving people the space to be an individual, like Spalding has done for me.

My mom inspires. I come from a family of six. I’m the fourth-oldest. There are three girls, three boys. I’ve always seen my mom as a caring, strong person who really cared about being there for other people when they needed help, even if she didn’t know them. She’s one of those people who will stop to help an elderly person cross the road, or she’ll stop and pick up trash off the ground for other people. I always would think, hmm, I want to be mindful like that, even when I have other things going on around me. Having six kids is a lot, and she still stops to think, ‘What if someone steps on this? I better grab that.’

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience at Spalding?
I’m just really satisfied with my experience here, and I think it developed me as a person, and I got to meet a lot of great individuals who really helped me along my journey.