75 Years of Black Excellence events build community
Homecoming and Family Weekend at Carthage brought generations of Black alumni and current students together to honor past achievements and set the stage for many more.
The College hosted a mix of social and professional networking events Oct. 15 and 16, continuing its 75 Years of Black Excellence celebration. The ongoing series marks the 75th anniversary of the first African American to graduate from Carthage, Lorraine Wiggan ’46.
“Embracing Black excellence through celebratory events allows our Carthage community to come together to acknowledge the powerful impact of education in people’s lives,” said Michele Hancock, vice president of College culture for inclusion. “The Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network will continue to serve as a beacon of hope and determination to help students succeed and live a purposeful life.”
First came an alumni panel discussion on Friday, moderated by Black Student Union officers Phillip Hunter ’24 and Kierra Coleman ’22. Besides general job search and interview tips, the five panelists advised students how to best promote justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (abbreviated as JEDI) in the workplace.
“If you see something wrong, say something,” said DaQuawn Bruce ’18, director of development at College to Congress. “But offer solutions.”
Acknowledging the advantages that white men like him have historically enjoyed, Kevin Panke-Buisse ’10 said it’s important to make room for diverse perspectives.
“Make it your job to make sure those viewpoints are heard,” said Mr. Panke-Buisse, a research microbiologist who’s also a partner in I-jedi LLC, a company that helps organizations fulfill their commitment to a just environment.
Saturday featured a pregame tailgate party for the Wiggan-Kenniebrew (W-K) network and the signature event in the 75 Years of Black Excellence series, a semi-formal Evening of Elegance. More than 100 attendees — roughly one-third of them students — packed the Kenosha Public Museum for a night of dinner, dancing, and dialogue.
Leaders announced that donors have given $1.1 million toward the College’s equity and inclusion efforts since the W-K Network formed in 2018. More than half of that has come in 2021.
Patrick Anderson ’85 pledged $120,000 in new funding for scholarships designed to help underrepresented students stay enrolled. The gift honors his wife, Kim, the first woman and person of color to serve as executive director of the National Education Association.
“She taught me how a person of color must live each day differently than me simply because of my white privilege,” read the tribute from Mr. Anderson, a prominent defense attorney in Virginia who serves on the Carthage Board of Trustees. “Not only do I have the privilege of loving Kim, but I also have the honor of being taught by Kim.”
This is the couple’s second major gift supporting the College’s equity and inclusion work since President John Swallow announced a sweeping anti-racism plan in 2020. The Andersons are the parents of a Carthage junior.
The momentum inspired three other trustees — Alan Mills ’79, Dennis Monroe ’74, and Thomas Martinez — to create a 75 Years of Black Excellence Scholarship that will support returning students who demonstrate leadership in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Nearly $30,000 has been raised for it, including proceeds from Homecoming weekend events and the sale of hoodies and masks.
“The weekend definitely surpassed our expectations,” said Jamin McGinnis ’06, who chairs a committee of alumni and students that has helped to organize these celebratory events. “We have to use this momentum to discuss how we advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at Carthage.”
The 75 Years of Black Excellence schedule will stretch into 2022. Plans are taking shape for a culminating Martin Luther King Jr. Day program and Journey Through Black History activities.
To learn more about different ways to support underrepresented Carthage students as part of the Wiggan-Kenniebrew Black Alumni Network, please complete this form.