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Allene Jones Competition

 

On Wednesday, February 28, members of the TCU community gathered in Smith Hall to celebrate the work of 10 students who competed in a design competition, sponsored by Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies and Women & Gender Studies. The competition honored Ms. Allene Jones, who, in 1962 became one of the first three Black undergraduates—all of whom were women—admitted to TCU. Upon receiving her Master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing from UCLA, Ms. Jones returned to Harris College of Nursing in 1968 to become the first Black professor at TCU.

 

Earlier this semester, students were given the opportunity to design a poster commemorating Ms. Jones and honoring her accomplishments. 10 students submitted entries. The winning designer was Jessica Dawson, a senior Graphic Design major, who received a $150 prize. The runner-up was Anika Carlson, a senior Graphic Design major, who received a prize of $50.

 

Winning Poster by Jessica Dawson

Runner-Up Poster by Anika Carlson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawson described what her participation in this competition meant to her, as an African American woman: “Learning about Allene Jones was empowering to me both as a woman and as an African American. I didn’t know her before beginning this project and once I heard her story, I immediately felt a responsibility to commemorate her and her accomplishments.” She went on to describe how she incorporated details about Ms. Jones into the concept of her design:

 

Because the poster is meant to inform viewers who, like me, may not have known of Allene Jones, I chose to make her history a prominent element in the design. Most style and color choices came from researching graphic design of the 1960s, during which time Jones attended and graduated TCU. Graphic Designer Saul Bass’ works greatly inspired the cut-out block style which I used to organize information on the poster. I used a cross-hatching illustration style on the portrait, making her look like a wood-cut illustration, but mostly to reference the presidential portraits on dollar bills. I felt the style was an effective way to memorialize her and imply the impact of her legacy.

 

Students were given access to a portfolio of archival materials about Ms. Jones in order to complete their designs. The competition was judged by CRES and WGST affiliates Dr. Zoranna Jones (Harris College), Dr. Francyne Huckaby (College of Education), Roxana Aguirre (Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services), and Ebony Rose (Student Development Services). Dr. Zoranna Jones announced the winner and runner-up, noting how impressed the judges were with all of the designs, and naming Dawson’s as particularly inspiring. All of the designs will be displayed in the BLUU later this semester.

 

Left to right: Anika Carlson (runner-up), Jessica Dawson (winner), Dr. Zoranna Jones (competition judge, Harris College)

 

In addition to naming the winner of this contest, the reception kicked off a two-part inaugural series called “An Intersectional Celebration of Black History Month and Women’s History.” The program included remembrances of Ms. Jones and other perspectives on Black women’s history at TCU. The design competition and the reception were part of a larger project to research, document, and disseminate histories or race, gender, and sexuality at TCU, sponsored by CRES and WGST.

 

Attendees and award presentation

Contest submissions displayed at the event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–Nino Testa, WGST Associate Director

 

 

Black History Month 2018

Black History Month is a national holiday that serves to honor and reflect the contributions Black people have made to society. For those four weeks, we are to remember the individuals that gave of themselves to promote a brighter future for the oppressed, and ultimately society as a whole.

Carter G. Woodson, the 2nd African American to earn a PhD from Harvard, began the idea of BHM as an honorary week in 1926 to remember Frederick Douglass, a prominent abolitionist who was born on February 14, 1818. It slowly began to gain popularity and growth before stretching to encompass the entire month. However, BHM was not nationally recognized until 1976, when Gerald Ford was the first president to acknowledge the holiday, and every president has done so since. Despite this validation, there is still today a level of resentment around this celebration.

Every year, a certain deliberate backlash attempts to discredit or negate the need for BHM, particularly among White Americans, largely backed by the notion that Black people are given special treatment, favoritism, social preference, etc. because of this month. Essentially, sentiments along the lines of “if there is a Black history month, why isn’t there a White history month?”

To frankly dismiss this idea; every month is treated like White history month. For hundreds of years, and as long as the Unites States has been a nation, White people have been at the center. They have historically been recognized, given advantage, supported, and embraced without question. There doesn’t need to be a White history month because there has never been a time when White history hasn’t been respected. However, the systematic suppression of Black culture, Black social contribution, and Black heritage, that still exists today, garners the need to take 28 days out of the year to make sure this community has nationally recognized respect.

Further, many Black people are unable to trace their heritage in the same way that White people can. A bit of research can pinpoint roots in Germany or Ireland or most European ancestries, whereas Black histories were largely erased during the time of colonization and the slave trade. The removal of Black people from their homes and stripping of culture leaves many today unable to know where their relatives and those before them were truly from. So, BHM allows for simply a celebration of Blackness. History has taken away their heritage, so now it is attempting to give it back with one month out of the year, although it will never of course be able to reverse thousands of years of oppression. February is a time to learn, study, and honor all achievements Black people have made in the past, and continue to make today.

As a contribution to this year’s BHM, we would like to highlight a few incredible, under-recognized, Black suffragists. During the women’s suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, only the rights of White women were truly taken into consideration or fought for. Black women not only faced the sexism of the inability to vote, but also the racism surrounding the suffragist movement, as many suffragist groups were exclusively for White women only. In fact in some parts of the United States, Black women were not granted the right to vote until the 1960’s—more than 40 years after the ratification of the 19th amendment. Despite this, many early Black suffragists were not deterred from striving for equality and helped pave the way for many activist movements.

 

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)

Sojourner Truth, born Isabella Baumfree, was born into slavery in New York, though escaped along with her infant daughter to freedom in 1926. She became heavily involved with the suffragist movement, and is widely known for her speech on race issues, “Ain’t I A Woman?”, in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. The speech was improvised and instantly regarded as a pioneering force for the empowerment of Black women. Many of Truth’s ideas and beliefs were considered radical, even to abolitionists, because of her desire to make Black women socially important. Her public service did not end at these issues, as she pursued prison reform, property rights, and the recruitment of Black soldiers for the Union Army. She is honored with The Sojourner Truth Library, built in 1970, at the State University of New York, New Paultz.

 

Sarah Parker Remond (1824-1894)

Born in Massachusetts in 1924, Sarah Parker Remond had a largely unusual childhood for African Americans at that time. She grew up in a free, economically respected and stable family, who heavily supported the causes for abolition and equal rights. Before the start of the Civil War in 1858, Remond left the United States for Liverpool, England and began her career as a lecturer, advocating for civil rights in the United States and across the globe. During her lectures, she would encourage Europeans to support the Union and aid in any way to the freedom of African Americans. Remond gave a total of 45 lectures across England, Scotland, and Ireland, all garnering significant press and coverage in Europe and abroad. She eventually moved to Italy, where she studied medicine and married, remaining there until her death in 1894.

 

Mary Ann Shadd Carry (1823-1893)

Mary Ann Shadd Carry was born the oldest of 13 children to a free African American family in Delaware. Her father worked for an abolitionist newspaper called The Liberator, run by the renowned William Lloyd Garrison, which helped many slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad. Carry was deeply influenced by her father and eventually became the first female African American editor in North America after moving to Canada and founding The Provincial Freemen. The magazine was a weekly publication for African Americans, mainly escaped slaves, and Carry would frequently return to the US for information for the articles she wrote herself. Carry advocated for equal rights causes outside of her work as an editor, including the foundation of a primary school open to all races, and eventually returning to the United States to aid in the war effort as a recruiter for the Union army. Carry would later attend Howard University in 1883, becoming the second African American women to earn a law degree.

 

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931)

Born a slave in Mississippi of 1862, Wells-Barnett and her family were freed after the Emancipation Proclamation 6 months after her birth, although they were still greatly discriminated against while living in the South. Her parents were heavily involved in Reconstruction and her father helped found Shaw University (known today as Rust College), a school for freed slaves, where Wells-Barnett received an education. Later in life, after a racist interaction on a train where she was forcibly removed for not sitting in the designated African American car though buying a first-class ticket, Wells-Barnett decided to dedicate herself to the causes of abolition and equal rights. She began writing articles about racial and political issues in the United States using the pseudonym “Iola.” Wells-Barnett also began a nation-wide anti-lynching campaign, traveling around the country advocating for reform and justice. In 1898, she organized a protest in Washington D.C., demanding President McKinley to make political changes. She also fought for the end of discriminatory hiring practices against women in the workforce and women’s suffrage as a member of the National Equal Rights League.

 

Frances E. W. Harper (1825-1911)

Frances Harper was born in Maryland in 1825 to free parents and became interested in poetry and literature at an early age. After receiving an education, she went on to publish her first book of poetry, Forest Leaves. She then left Maryland and took a job teaching at a Quaker school in Ohio. John Brown, an active abolitionist was the head of the school and Harper soon became involved in the movement. She advocated for freedom, suffrage and women’s rights through her writing, and her most famous poem, “Bury Me in a Free Land,” confronts the issues of race in America. Harper quickly garnered fame and respect as a prominent lecturer, often appearing alongside fellow abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucretia Mott and Lucy Stone. In her later years, she published her most famous novel, Iola Leroy, and sought to improve the lives of African American women through the National Association of Colored Women.

 

–Sarah Campbell, WGST Undergraduate Intern

Sources:

Biography, www.biography.com/.

 

Boyd, Melba Joyce. “Canon Configuration for Ida B. Wells-Barnett.” The Black Scholar, vol. 24, no. 1, 1994, pp. 8–13. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41068453.

 

Mabee, Carleton. “Sojourner Truth and President Lincoln.” The New England Quarterly, vol. 61, no. 4, 1988, pp. 519–529. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/365943.

 

Shadd, Mary A. A Plea for Emigration; or, Notes of Canada West, in its Moral, Social, and Political Aspect; with Suggestions Respecting Mexico, W. Indies and Vancouver’s Island, for the Information of Colored Emigrants. Detroit: George W. Pattison, 1852. Iii-iv, 5, 15-18, 36.

 

 

January 31, 2018

WGST Students Proudly Support the 2018 Women’s March

One year after the largest recorded public demonstration in US history, people of all ages and genders gathered together again for the 2018 Women’s March. Almost every major US city participated in protests throughout the weekend along with many more across the country, including a group of dedicated TCU WGST students at the march held in Fort Worth.

Carrying handmade signs and a devotion to the cause, these students showed up and expressed their personal beliefs for varying reasons, with the hope for change and a progressive future as a standout for many of them. Jordyn, a freshman at TCU, voiced her desire to “march for what [she believes] in” and wanted a “public way to support the empowerment of women.” Both Marissa and Katy, two sophomores, also voiced these beliefs, proudly claiming the identity of feminist. Marissa said she was “happy we have a voice as women, and [was] excited to show pride for [TCU] and its interests” during the march.

Some focuses of this year’s march centered on reproductive rights, intersectionality, and Trump’s presidency, a continuation of the demonstration in 2017; however, more recent cultural campaigns were given the spotlight such as the #TimesUP and #MeToo movements. The reckoning of perpetrators of sexual misconduct continues in Hollywood and other industries, pushing demonstrators to demand change. These revelations of abuse, assault, and harassment have sparked a shift that many hope will translate into lasting social and political change that is long overdue.

Many marchers believed that this translation would only become a reality through voting power. The mid-term elections are at the end of this year, a potentially vital turning point for US politics, so rightfully, voter registration and turnout were greatly emphasized at many Women’s March demonstrations. A message aptly summed up by one sign at the Fort Worth march stating, “If you don’t vote in November, this is just a 5k,” underlying that while defiantly chanting in the streets is a powerful and important visual message, the work of advocating for feminist causes and electing feminist leaders is ongoing. Statistics from the 2016 presidential election proved that just 58% of eligible voters turned out on November 9th, a number Women’s Marchers hope to drastically change.

But this year, women aren’t just voting—they’re volunteering for campaigns and running for office themselves. It is expected that over 600 women will be participating in races across the country, another reason to get voters registered and at the polls.  Libby Willis, herself a candidate for Texas Senate in 2014, told the Fort Worth crowd of nearly 5,000, “We are going to march. We are going to vote. And we are going to win.” These messages of support are what truly bolster and resonate with Women’s March attendees and, in turn, keep the cause moving forward. Despite tones of anger and frustration that can feel increasingly prevalent today, love, hope, and resilience remain at the core of the Women’s March.

TCU’s WGST proudly demonstrates these ideals through its students who continue to show up and take charge in the conversation. Caitlyn, a junior at TCU, believes events like the Women’s March will “raise awareness and encourage more people to fight for equal rights.” This push and drive towards a future of equality will not easily be extinguished, and these TCU students are ready for the long haul. Dr. Theresa Gaul, the director of WGST, also attended the march and noted how “[inspiring it was] to see so many of [WGST’s] students, faculty, and staff show up to march for a broad range of feminist and social justice causes—from reproductive rights to the movement for Black lives.” Dr. Gaul also believes in the importance of “connecting academic inquiry to social change,” demonstrated by those who participated on Saturday.

Pursuit of feminist activism certainly didn’t end after the conclusion of the march for many students returning to campus, bringing back with them the intention to continue similar involvement. A developing feminist student group at TCU (not yet named, though “Feminist Frogs” and “Find the Feminists” are in the running) has provided space for the growth of a community grounded in activist engagement. Tamera Hyatt, a prominent member of the new group, feels it “will help [to promote and bring] awareness to what it means to be a woman empowered.” Further, she notes the lack of a continued role in activism at TCU, and “would certainly love to see the new feminist organization play an active role in advocating for women’s issues impacting [TCU], such as working to prevent sexual assault and sexual misconduct, more women occupying leadership positions, supporting diverse initiatives and efforts to make the campus more inclusive to women and minorities, and ultimately creating a safe space for women and men to talk about these issues.”

The existence and expansion of organizations like the new feminist group continue to be important by allowing students a place to exercise and express their beliefs even after the excitement of something as amazing as the Women’s March. The gathering of people who support each other across race, class, gender, sexuality and religious beliefs, to defy all forms of oppression and hold those in power accountable, for the second year-in-a-row and beyond, is a reminder to the world that we are still here and we aren’t going anywhere.

*All photos credited to Tamera Hyatt

–Sarah Campbell, WGST Undergraduate Intern