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HERE’S SOME AMERICAN HISTORY FOR YOU

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I’m pretty sure most people know the name Jesse Owens, who dominated the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, winning four gold medals.

But what about track legend William “Harrison” Dillard, four-time Olympic Gold Medal Champion?

Harrison Dillard — the only male runner in history to win Olympic gold in both a dash and the high hurdles and a member of the U.S. Army 92nd Infantry, the famed all-black “Buffalo Soldiers” who fought with distinction during World War II — will be laid to rest this week in his native Cleveland, Ohio.

I admit that Harrison Dillard had fallen off my radar, but came back into full view in April 2015, when I was visiting the Baldwin Wallace University campus – on the same day that he was present for the unveiling of his life-size bronze statue. Dillard, 96, was an alumnus of Baldwin Wallace.

That day, I was reminded of how people like Harrison Dillard don’t have household names — how they are not included in the history of our nation that is taught in schools and how it is seemingly not important to know their names.

That stark reality struck me again last week (on the heels of Harrison Dillard’s death), as I watched a television news story about the life of Azellia White. The news station – along with several other media organizations – was reporting Azellia White’s death. One of the news reports started like this:

“Azellia White, one of the nation’s first African American female pilots, earned her pilot’s license just after World War II and found freedom flying in the skies above the Jim Crow South.”

Like Jesse Owens, I am pretty sure the name Bessie Coleman, who soared across the sky as the first African American and the first Native American woman pilot, rings a bell (at least I hope so). And let us not forget that because of racism, she had to earn her license from France’s Fédération Aéronautique Internationale before touring America and Europe. But what about Azellia White?

Well, here’s a tidbit: Azellia White, her Tuskegee Airman husband, Hulon White, and two other Tuskegee Airmen (Ben Stevenson and Elton “Ray” Thomas) created a flight school, delivery service, and airport in the Houston area with a mission to serve the black community during segregation,after World War II.

And here’s a real eye-opener: White died on September 14, and was buried a week later in her native state of Texas. She was 106.

Here’s my question: Why did it take more than two months for national news outlets to figure out who she was?

While I am distraught over the fact that it took so long to acknowledge Azellia White’s legacy, I find comfort in the fact that she was (finally) recognized; and I am heartened by the timeliness of the reports about Harrison Dillard’s death.

For me, this illustrates that while we have made some progress when it comes to inclusion, we still have a long way to go. It reinforces, for me, that structural racism still persists, that people of color are still viewed as “other”, and that there is an unwillingness to view “black history” as American history.

Harrison Dillard’s longtime friend, Ted Theodore, described his death as “a loss for humanity” and said “he was an example for all of us, how to live our lives, with never an unkind word for anyone. He was a champion, a true champion.”

Isn’t it time for us to honor and celebrate all of our champions who have contributed significantly to history in America?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Does the name William Felton Russell mean anything to you?

If not, maybe you know him by Bill Russell — the 11-time NBA champion, five-time MVP, 12-time All Star, Olympic gold medalist, two-time NCAA champ and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom who fought for civil rights his entire career, financially supported the movement as one the NBA’s biggest stars, held his Boston Celtics team’s fans accountable for their racism, and convinced his entire organization to forfeit a game because a restaurant wouldn’t serve black customers..

Did you know that just last week he accepted his Hall of Fame ring, despite being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975?

Forty-four years.

What took so long for the basketball legend (and the first African-American player to be elected to Hall of Fame) to acknowledge the honor? (He essentially boycotted the ceremony back in 1975 for “his own personal reasons”)?

We got the answer last week, after he accepted his Hall of Fame ring in a private ceremony at his home – he was waiting for the NBA to induct Chuck Cooper, the first African-American player drafted by the NBA (in 1950).

That finally happened this year.

The moral of this story, for me: We are all standing on someone’s shoulders – benefiting from the work and experiences of those who came before us.

Whose shoulders are you standing on?

And who is standing (or will stand) on yours?

“You have been paid for. Each of you, Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Red — whatever pigment you use to describe yourselves—has been paid for. But for the sacrifices made by some of your ancestors, you would not be here; they have paid for you. So, when you enter a challenging situation, bring them on the stage with you; let their distant voices add timbre and strength to your words. For it is your job to pay for those who are yet to come.”  — Maya Angelou

Posted in Associate Blog, News

A “GOOD NEWS” STORY BEGINS WITH AN ACT OF KINDNESS

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Did you hear about the Gulf War Army Veteran who got picked up by the police, as he was walking along an Alabama highway?

No. It’s not a joke.

It’s a “good news” story. And I love good news stories because they are inspiring and encouraging and build trust and hope in humankind.

So, here’s what reportedly happened:

Gerald David Baldwin set out to walk to an appointment at a VA hospital – 100 miles away. Someone spotted him walking along a highway, with his portable oxygen tank, and called police. A sheriff’s deputy responded and discovered that the veteran (with 22 years of service) needed to get to his appointment or risk losing some of his benefits.

The deputy – Walker County Sgt. Kevin Emberg – agreed to drive Baldwin to the county line, with the assistance of Deputy Chris Doerr, who arranged for deputies in three neighboring counties to transport Baldwin to his appointment. The four departments then made the reverse trip to get Baldwin home.

Now, a social media post by one of the departments is garnering interest in helping Baldwin with reliable transportation and to connect with services for veterans.

Doesn’t that make you feel good and strengthen your faith in humanity? – that is a benefit of good news: positive vibes and positive thinking.

Just like the deputies who went above and beyond their call of duty to make the world a better place, we each have the power to make the world a better place – and write our own “good news” story — one small act of kindness at a time.

What will you do TODAY to make a difference?

Posted in Associate Blog

GIVE OF YOURSELF THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I know you’ve seen it – the holiday merchandise on display in retail stores.

(Yes. I know, it’s been out for weeks – even in the same aisle as the Halloween merchandise).

Those displays have given me an idea: what if we shift our thoughts from presents to presence during the Christmas season of gratitude and giving by sharing gifts that reach beyond store-bought trinkets?

There are countless ways we can share gratitude, support, and love. Here are a few:

  • Spend time with those who are lonely.
  • Listen to someone who needs to be heard.
  • Write a note of appreciation to family and friends.
  • Volunteer at a local food pantry.
  • Donate supplies to a school.
  • Bake a treat for a neighbor, co-worker, or friend
  • Prepare/share a meal for/with someone who lives alone.
  • Devote quality time to family and friends.
  • Go caroling at a nursing home.
  • Rake leaves/shovel snow for a senior.
  • Relax with loved ones.

Let’s remember why we celebrate this glorious holiday in the first place: Almighty God decided to give an undeserving humanity the truest and most precious gift that has ever been given in His Son Jesus.

And while we’re making the most of this holiday season, let’s remember that there are always opportunities to give throughout the year!

What are some ways that you can give of yourself this holiday season?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

2019 Education Sponsorship Meeting

Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, OH, hosted the 2019 Education Sponsorship Meeting on October 24 and 25.

Dr. Kathy Lechman, Associate Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity at The Ohio State University, addresses the Education Sponsorship Meeting.

This annual gathering brings together the presidents, board, chairs, delegates, and other representatives of our sponsored educational ministries: Albertus Magnus College (New Haven, CT); Ohio Dominican University (Columbus, OH); Dominican Academy (New York, NY); Our Lady of the Elms School (Akron, OH); St. Agnes Academy-St. Dominic School (Memphis, TN); and St. Mary’s Dominican High School (New Orleans, LA).

The meeting included opportunities for prayer, community building, and networking among our educational ministry leaders.

This year’s guest speaker was Dr. Kathy Lechman, Associate Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. Dr. Lechman’s topic, Equity and Inclusion: The Missing Pieces, addressed issues around diversity, equity and implicit bias.

Sr. Pat Twohill, OP, (left) looks on as outgoing Albertus Magnus Board Chair Jeanne Dennison, (center) is gifted an original painting by former Albertus professor Sr. Thoma Swanson, OP (right).

During the event, outgoing Albertus Magnus Board Chair Jeanne Dennison, ’78, was presented with a special painting of New Haven’s beloved East Rock by former Albertus Magnus professor Sr. Thoma Swanson.

Click here for additional photos.

Posted in Associate Blog