Message from Dr. Vincent
In case you have ever doubted that What Starts Here at The University of Texas at Austin Changes the World, you need to meet students involved with DDCE programs and initiatives. In the past month, the university tag line has been proved again and again, showing just how impressive our students are.
Early in February, a fraternity party that had a border-theme was held off campus. UT students responded quickly, making it clear that such events harm campus culture and perpetuate negative, false stereotypes. The Latino Community Affairs group, a student agency within our Multicultural Engagement Center, circulated a petition protesting that event, gathering thousands of signatures and organized a protest. Latino Community Affairs leaders also wasted no time in meeting with leaders of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and have reported the discussions with the fraternity have been positive.
The Project 2015, UT’s largest day of service organized by our Longhorn Center for Community Engagement (LCCE) and a lead team of 150 students, was to have been held Feb. 28. The day was extremely cold and rainy. Because so many of the service tasks were outdoor tasks, staff tried to cancel The Project and reschedule for March. One thousand students came anyway and worked at 15 sites in the Holly Street neighborhood. Although the buses from campus were cancelled, these intrepid students got rides, some even using Uber to get there. Students told Program Director Amory Baril and Assistant Vice President Dr. Suchitra Gururaj, they believed they had a commitment that should be honored. Even community members were impressed, several of them writing us about how grateful they were.
Then, the Texas Exes published an article about six students deemed rising stars—three of those students are affiliated with the DDCE. Ignacio Cruz is president of the IE Citizen Scholars and a McNair Scholar; Amy Enrione is one of our LCCE city hall fellows and Madison Grove was a city hall fellow last year and serves as course assistant and peer mentor for the program this year. Learn more about these students in the Alcalde.
Please join me in congratulating all of the students I mentioned. They have demonstrated real leadership and we are proud to have them in the DDCE family.
DDCE Co-Hosts SXSWedu Conversation on ‘My Brother’s Keeper’
In 2014, President Obama launched the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, challenging local governments, philanthropists, non-profit leaders, educators and individuals to address the significant challenges that young boys and men of color continue to face today.
Addressing this nation-wide call to action, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) co-hosted a city-wide conversation on Wednesday, March 10 at SXSWedu. The community dialogue included an opening address by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and a keynote by Michael D. Smith, special assistant to President Obama and senior director of cabinet affairs for “My Brother’s Keeper.”
The panelists discussed the historic barriers that are holding young students of color back from reaching their full potential, such as debilitating punitive measures in schools, lack of guidance and support from family members and administrators, and financial constraints. Read more.
A Watershed Experience: Precursor Sherryl Griffin Bozeman Reflects on Lawsuit to Integrate UT Dorms
Sherryl Griffin Bozeman is a member of the Precursors, a group of African-American alumni who share the distinction of being among the first Black students to attend and integrate The University of Texas at Austin more than 50 years ago. In 1961, she and two other members of the Precursors, Leroy Sanders, Maudie Ates Fogle, filed suit against the university that led to the integration of its residence halls. In this essay, Bozeman reflects on this watershed moment that left a lasting impression on the university.
The beginning was resolute, certain, almost defiant — a double dare to meet the flagrant insult of the unjust, dismissive, demeaning sting of racism.
After many protests and speeches, including sit-ins at Kinsolving Dormitory, our group turned to the courts. The university had stepped up its segregating policies. Black students could not live in white-only dormitories — which were almost all of the university’s dormitories. They could not even sit in the living room of a for-whites-only dormitory.
Thus, the flurry and furor of response arose concerning such injustice. On Nov. 8, 1961, Leroy Sanders, Maudie Ates (Fogle), and I as well as Maudie’s and my fathers, served as plaintiffs and filed the campus desegregation suit. The suit called for the desegregation of campus housing, activities, and facilities throughout the UT system. In the wake of the suit, on March 9, 1962, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to UT and spoke. Later, I wrote in an op-ed in The Daily Texan on October 17, 1963, “Students should be free of discriminating bonds against free social associations. These associations come easiest by permitting all students the choice of living together.” Read more.
Dr. Vincent Tours Blanton's 'Witness' Exhibit
Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Gregory Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, gave a gallery talk on Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties at the Blanton Museum of Art. As part of the Blanton's Perspectives series, he toured several pieces, examining the political mobilization of African Americans as they fought to gain access to education during the 1960s.
The exhibition features about 100 works of various mediums exploring the political and social turmoil of the civil rights era. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the exhibition highlights the wide-ranging aesthetic approaches used to address the struggle for civil rights. Here’s a look at some of the pieces of artwork Dr. Vincent explored in his talk. View more images from the tour.
Witness will be on exhibit at the Blanton through May 10. For more information about the gallery, visit this website.
Community Health Dialogue Draws 100 from Community
The DDCE Community Engagement Center and UT School of Nursing’s first Community Health Dialogue drew approximately 100 community members, UT Austin students and health care practitioners. It was held at Wesley United Methodist Church in East Austin.
The session, titled “How Healthy is Your Zip Code” included presentations by Dr. Stephen Pont, childhood obesity expert and Dell Medical School faculty member and Shannon Jones III, director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department.
A panel discussion featured the following representatives from local health care organizations that provide care and services to the traditionally underserved areas of Travis County:
Dr. Melissa C. Smith, physician with Seton McCarthy Community Health Center and lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin, and Dr. Miyong Kim, DDCE associate vice president and professor in the School of Nursing also spoke.
Dr. Suchitra Gururaj, assistant vice president for community engagement said, “We hope that these dialogues give community members, nonprofits, faculty, staff, and students an opportunity to collaborate on ways to address the priorities of the diverse communities in Austin.” She noted that the goal of the DDCE’s Community Engagement Center is for the dialogues to be held in various Austin neighborhoods.
Community members enthusiastically supported another community health dialogue that looks at ways to solve the health problems facing the community and allows community members to engage in discussions around policy changes needed to improve access and equity.
NFL Alumni Bowling Challenge Nets $38,000 for Neighborhood Longhorns
Highland Lanes was a lively scene Saturday, Feb. 21, as National Football League (NFL) alumni bowled with teams from Austin businesses and students from DDCE’s Neighborhood Longhorns Program (NLP). NLP is one of the division’s pre-college academic readiness programs that helps increase student achievement and encourages students to begin thinking about college at an early age.
Highland Lanes graciously provided the entire bowling alley and provided free sodas and cookies, while Rudy’s Barbecue fed the entire crew brisket, turkey, sausage and sides.
The following businesses sponsored teams, raising $38,000 for NLP.
Louis Shanks took first place, Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q won second, and Doucet and Associates placed third. The winning NFL team was a powerhouse that included Aaron Ross, William Graham and Tom Campbell.
Many thanks to all who participated and sponsored the event. Special thanks go to the Austin chapter of the NFL Alumni Association who have been involved in the bowling challenge for the past five years, helping provide incentives and tutoring to approximately 6,500 Title 1 students in the Austin Independent School District (AISD). Read more.
Forestar Presents Neighborhood Longhorns Program with $15,000 Gift
A group of Neighborhood Longhorns Program students, staff and friends visited Forestar on February 18 for a pizza lunch and generous gifts including a $15,000 donation to support the program. The celebratory lunch included a talk by DDCE Development Officer Vince Young, who shared stories about his experiences in school and discussed the importance of attaining a college degree.
Jim DeCosmo, president and chief executive officer of Forestar, talked to the students about Young’s remarkable achievements and shared insight into how they can conquer challenges in school by harnessing their inner strength. For a bonus homework assignment, he told them to look up the definitions for “grit,” “tenacity” and “resilience.”
The students, all fifth-graders at Allison Elementary, are too young to remember Young’s role in bringing the 2005 national championship to Texas, so the Forestar team provided them with newspaper clippings and magazine articles about his many achievements as a star Longhorns quarterback.
The generous donation will help the Neighborhood Longhorns Program serve more than 6,000 students in the 30 Austin Independent School District (AISD) schools. In partnership with AISD, the program serves economically disadvantaged youth (grades 2-8) who are at higher risk of experiencing academic difficulties.
Editors: Leslie Blair, Jessica Sinn. Web: Jason Molin