Union Honors Black History Month

The transformation of lives and communities is a lofty goal. It takes dedication and commitment to a higher purpose. One man who understood this premise is Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, the founder of what is now known as Black History Month.
Woodson, often referred to as the “Father of Black History,” was the son of former slaves and a Harvard-trained historian who dedicated his life to the research and preservation of the history of African Americans. He was one of the first to decry the lack of African-American contributions in history text books.
It was this glaring omission of African-American history that led him to start “Negro History Week” in 1926, the forerunner of today’s Black History Month. Dr. Woodson stated, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”

The significance of Black History Month should not be overlooked. This was the first time that the African-American community was asked to highlight the significant contributions to the social, economic, and political culture in our country.

Dr. Woodson is a resolute example of how one transforms lives and communities. His dedication shines a light on the challenges faced then and now.

Union Institute & University is proud of its commitment to transform lives and communities. And, as we state in Union’s newly revised values statement, “Union is committed to promoting diversity among its academic community and in the world at large.”

We are highlighting just a few of our many students and alumni below who have made a positive impact in the last year–breathing life into Union’s mission and furthering it across the nation and the world.

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In June 2015, alumna Stephanie Anne Johnson (Ph.D. 2013) performed her one-woman show Every Twenty One Days: Cancer, Yoga, and Me at the Marsh Theater in Berkeley, California. The performance benefited the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, which provides wellness programs to all regardless of gender or health status. Dr. Johnson was a successful artist and theater lighting designer when she was diagnosed with cancer. After treatment, she emerged as a solo performer, sharing the story of her journey from diagnosis to survival.

Ph.D. student Aiesha Turman founded The Black Girl Project to combat stereotypical images in the media. In 2015, New York City arts organization Culture Push awarded her a fellowship so she can continue her ground-breaking work. She will use the fellowship to develop Black Girl Museum, a traveling exhibition to engage black women and girls around issues of sexuality, gender, identity, community, family, and place-making.

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Criminal Justice Management graduate Cecil Thomas (B.S. 2012) won the Ohio 9th Senate District race. He defeated long-time Cincinnati City Council member Charlie Winburn with a large margin of victory. The district includes most of Cincinnati, Norwood, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place, Golf Manor, Hollydale, Columbia Township, Silverton and Springfield Township. He was sworn into office as state senator January 5, 2015.

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Alumnus Reverend Gregory Bailey (Ph.D. 2013) is the first recipient of the Dr. Virgil Alexander Wood Dissertation Award for his dissertation King’s Pursuit of Economic Justice: Correcting Capitalism through a Beloved Economy. The award recognizes Reverend Bailey’s research of MLK’s legacy in building a beloved community that confronts racism, war, and poverty. Reverend Bailey is the associate pastor at Union Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, where he serves as worship leader, adult educator and clergy support. He also practices law representing the poor and undeserved.

Alumna Twyla Cummings (Ph.D. 1992) recently earned the 2015 Naomi Berber Memorial Award, the graphic communications industry’s only award honoring the outstanding contributions of women. Dr. Cummings is a senior associate dean in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and a professor and graduate executive board advisor in the School of Media Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). She was honored for her exceptional record of accomplishments, contributions toward the development of the graphic communications industry, and for having furthered the interests of the industry.

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In June 2015, doctoral alumna Koryoe Anim-Wright (Ph.D. 1996) was named President of the African University College of Communications in Ghana. In her previous positions at the university, Dr. Anim-Wright served as chief academic officer and as Dean of the Sam E. Jonah School of Business. She has more than 25 years of managerial and academic experience including work for Central State University in Ohio, Mississippi Consortium for International Development, Western Connecticut State University, and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.

In April 2015, notable alumna The Most Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller (B.A. 1997), Prime Minister of Jamaica met with President Barack Obama during his visit to Jamaica. The stop was an effort by Obama to improve relations and strengthen engagement with nearby Caribbean neighbors. The last sitting US president to visit Jamaica was Ronald Reagan in 1982.

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In December 2015, alumna Carla Jackson Bell (Ph.D. 2009) accepted the position of dean of the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science School at Tuskegee University. She is recognized as one of only 12 tenured African American women architecture faculty in the United States and the first to receive a doctoral degree specializing in architecture education. She is also one of two African American women to be named dean of an architecture program and the first to lead a construction science program.

Are you a Union Institute & University student or alum with a recent accomplishment that you would like to share? Send your news to communications@myunion.edu.