Black History Month event honors alumni

By Louis Q Iverson


On the eve of Black History Month, the University of the Incarnate Word dedicated its All-Faiths Room in honor of its first black graduate and gave an alumni award to a longtime administrator.

The annual Alumni Reception took place Jan. 31 in the new Student Engagement Center Ballroom. The All-Faiths Room is being named after the late Adell Ferguson-Polk is on the third floor of the building.

Polk enrolled at UIW in 1954 when it was Incarnate Word College. She graduated in 1956 with a nursing degree and later earned a pharmacy degree from another institution. A plaque honoring Ferguson-Polk will be placed at SEC 3140 probably later this month.

The reception also honored the Rev. Dr. Trevor Alexander, who serves as Protestant chaplain and director of ecumenical initiatives for University Mission and Ministry. Alexander also is founding pastor of True Vine Church and an Army veteran.

Alexander’s military service was among the criteria considered for the award-winner since this year’s Black History Month theme nationally is “African Americans in Times of War.”

“I was honored to be chosen by my peers,” Alexander said.

The alumni reception – as many of the events that have taken place this month or are yet to take place – took a lot of coordination. Dr. Danielle Alsandor, an assistant professor at the Dreeben School of Education, and Dr. Doshie Piper, an assistant professor of criminal justice, have been the key planners who kept a committee busy.

“In previous years, Rev. Trevor Alexander and Sister Martha Anne Kirk (a religious studies professor) led the coordination of the planning committee,” said Alsandor, who has worked at UIW two years with students seeking master’s and doctoral degrees.

Traditionally, Black History Month festivities fell under the Office of Mission and Ministry.

“The biggest change this year is getting student organizations involved, as well as student-athletes with hopes of increasing student involvement and engagement,” Alsandor said.

Some of the activities were spearheaded by the BSA and African Student Organization on board. The BSA held a poetry slam Feb. 5. The ASO held a panel discussion Feb. 13 in the SEC on “Healthy Relationships” and is holding a forum on “The ‘N’ Word” at 6 p.m. Feb. 27 in the SEC where Dr. Carey Lattimore of Trinity University will be a guest participant.

A Gospel Fest featuring praise singers and dancers from community churches is planned at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in Our Lady’s Chapel. A reception will follow. The final event will be “A Celebration of Black History” hosted by Sodexo in the SEC’s dining café.

BSA Secretary Dyamond Hogan said the Poetry Slam was such a success it likely will become an annual event.

“I think it’s important for UIW to celebrate Black History Month because, technically, we are a minority here,” Hogan said. “It helps inform those who don’t know about black history.”

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