Monday, February 8, 2016

Spotlight: An Intern's Trip to Little Rock Central High School

On December 16th, 2015, I went on a trip to Little Rock, Arkansas. While I was there, I was able to tour Little Rock Central High School. The first stop on the tour was the outside of the facility. I arrived at Little Rock Central High School at approximately 1:07 PM, just as students were being let out for their Winter break. The building was absolutely beautiful.

As I looked at the architecture of the building itself, I was told that the building was created to mirror a European design. Above the large doors were statues with facial features that represented the only race that was allowed through those same doors until 1957 (when the Little Rock Nine enrolled in the school). As I was being presented with information about the Little Rock Nine, I observed the students walking outside of the doors and talking with each other. 

It amazed that I was standing there in 2015, watching students who identified with various racial groups interacting with one another. Of course, I see diverse groups interacting all of the time…but in that moment, I was reminded of the segregation and hatred that occurred at that very same high school (and other high schools across the nation). I learned that there were many other students who had signed up to be the first black students to attend Little Rock Central High School. However, many had parents who were reluctant and decided not to let their children attend. Black students were told they could not retaliate verbally or physically if verbally or physically assaulted by White students. Failure to comply would result in immediate suspension.

The first notable item inside the building is a showcase dedicated to the Little Rock Nine. Inside the showcase was a collection of books, autobiographies, and miniature replicas of clothing items dedicated to Ernest Green, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Minnijean Brown, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed, and Melba Pattillo Beals. I was then escorted inside the remainder of the building.
I toured the auditorium next, and I could not believe my eyes. The auditorium, although dated, was extremely large. I could still see underneath the seats where there used to be under seat air conditioning. The next stop was the cafeteria, where I heard the story of “The great chili incident”, in which Minnijean Brown was suspended for spilling chili on a white student. Controversy still exists as to whether Minnijean spilled the chili on purpose. Nonetheless, Minnijean was eventually suspended.

The next stop was a small courtyard outside. I was told that Ernest Green, the only one of the Little Rock Nine to graduate from the high school, was not allowed to graduate with any white students. He had his graduation ceremony outside, and was surprised when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. showed up at his graduation. There I was, at 21 years old, learning new details about an event that happened in a country I have been living in my entire life. How was this possible?
As I left the building, I was able to view a section that was created to commemorate the Little Rock Nine. In this structure were two very large collages of photos, as well as a recreation of the statues above the doors. However, these statues differed from the statues in the front because they exhibited Black facial features. It was interesting to see that something so subtle as a statue could make such a bold statement. I was very honored to have been able to go on this trip and walk on the same campus that the Little Rock Nine had.

 “Learning history is easy; learning its lessons seems almost impossibly difficult.” – Nicolas Bently

Written by: Randi Morgan

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Black History Month Kickoff

On February 3rd, 2016, The Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted a Black History Month Kick-Off with special guest Eddie Francis. Eddie Francis is an award-winning mass media veteran and HBCU/Black Greek Life advocate. 

Students were engaged in a dialogue as they explored the impact the media has on historically black colleges. Students were reminded of the importance of self-belief in higher education, goal-setting, inclusion, and the importance of overlooked history. Eddie Francis also emphasized that it is crucial for students to take ownership of their identity,  and the responsibility of correcting the misinterpretation of others in history. For more information about this event, please contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at
“Your reaction to adversity determines how successful you will be.” – Eddie Francis 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Reflective Candle Walk and Educational Movie Experience

1.       On January 20, 2016, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion hosted the first “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Reflective Candle Walk and Educational Movie Experience” from 6:00 – 8:30 PM. During this event, students reflected on the importance of the civil rights movement and the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students listened to excerpts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech while walking as a unified body around campus. 

       At the conclusion of the walk, students were invited to view the film “Selma”, which captures the impact of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lewis. 

     For more information about this event, you may contact the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at

      Additional information and photos may also be found at:

Luigi Iannacci, Pedagogies of Poverty

1.       On November 16, 2015, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion partnered with the College of Education to host “Luigi Iannacci, Pedagogies of Poverty” from 6:00 – 8:00 PM in the Thompson Student Center ballrooms. Iannacci discussed the important role of diversity in American education and the struggles students in America without English as a first language face. He explores the impact privilege has on education and shared tools future educators could use to couple diversity and education.         
      For more information about this event, you may contact the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at

Hunger & Homelessness Night Out

On November 14, 2015 the Office of Diversity & Inclusion hosted “Hunger and Homelessness Night Out” from 8:00 PM – 8:00 AM in the Intramural Fields. This experience enable students to experience living outside for a night to raise awareness of the struggles people with home insecurity face on a daily basis. Students reflected on issues such as hunger, limited resources, privilege, and circumstances that affect home security. Students also spent time making hygiene kits to be distributed to people in need. 

      For more information about this event, you may contact the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at 



         More information about our 
    events for Hunger & Homelessness Awareness can also be found at:

Monti Washington

On November 10, 2015, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion hosted “Monti Washington: From the Streets to the Stage” from 6:00 – 8:00 PM in the Thompson Student Center Ballrooms. This engaging presentation featured the work of Monti Washington, an actor, author, and motivational speaker. Monti Washington told his story of being a product of a one night stand, abused in foster home after foster home, and raised sleeping in parks. He used his challenges to help students gain problem solving skills and provided tips on how to live a more positive life. Student were challenged to delete negative people from their contacts, complement each other, and speak to the crowd about their accomplishments. This event concluded with a Q&A session with Monti. Monti Washington may be followed on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram @TRU_Motivation, or his Facebook page “Montivation”. For more information about this event, you may contact the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at        


" We don't look like our story. They say don't judge a book by it's cover." 
– Monti Washington 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hispanic Heritage Street Dance

On September 16th, from 4:00 PM-6:00 PM, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted the Hispanic Heritage Street Dance on the Dining Hall patio. The Hispanic Heritage Street Dance is an annual celebration of Hispanic culture, including music, games, and food. Students were able to enjoy a taste of Ecuadorian chicken soup, empanadas, and polvorones. These dishes are popular in the Hispanic culture, especially in Latin-American countries. Students enjoyed activities where they learned about influential Hispanic celebrities, study abroad opportunities in Latin-America, piƱata designing, music, and dancing.
For more information about the Hispanic Heritage Street Dance, you may contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at