Commemorating the Past WWU Celebrates Black History Month

Every February Walla Walla University (WWU) looks forward to celebrating Black History Month. This year, the celebration will take place Feb. 1–2, with special activities planned by the Black Faculty and Staff Fellowship, an organization going back many years on the WWU campus.

In 1991, a small group created an informal fellowship of staff and faculty with African origin, designed to foster camaraderie and deep friendship between those who were so far from home and family.

Now, 16 years later, the fellowship continues to meet weekly to either plan events or share each other's joys and sorrows. The group's goal is to be a helpful resource for WWU by making themselves available for mentoring black students, as well as helping to encourage diversity.

"We formed the fellowship with the idea of gently encouraging the university to continue in the direction of increasing diversity of its students, faculty and staff," says Austin Archer, current chair of the fellowship, and professor of psychology and education at WWU. "We want to help the university accomplish this without compromising quality, and while continuing to make the campus more welcoming to minorities."

Over the years, the fellowship has had members who were natives of the United States, Africa and the Caribbean, as well as members of other minority groups who shared the fellowship's goals and interests. The fellowship continues to be an encouragement for staff and faculty on campus who are distant culturally from what they are used to.

The fellowship facilitates many activities geared toward minority students, staff, and faculty, including African American University Days, a time when black students are invited to experience life at WWU; a black alumni dinner during Alumni Weekend in April; occasional potlucks for black students; Berean Fellowship, a worship experience geared toward minority students; and Black History Weekend, which takes place on the first weekend of February each year. Though all fellowship-sponsored events are designed with African American students in mind, they are open to all students.

This year's Black History Weekend features Tony Campolo, a well-known Christian speaker and author. Campolo is a media commentator on religious, social and political matters, having been a guest on television programs such as Larry King Live and CNN News, among others. He is also a highly respected and sought-after guest on radio stations around the globe, and has authored 34 books. Campolo will share his inspired insights for WWU's Black History Vespers on Feb. 1.

Other Black History Celebration Weekend events at WWU include a Berean Fellowship worship service at 10 a.m. on Saturday, followed by a black history worship service at 11:45 a.m. and African American University Days, which continues through Monday.

February 01, 2008 / Walla Walla University

Becky St. Clair, GLEANER correspondent