21st Century African American Greensboro College


Alumni Voices

Bridget Hall ’15
Born 1989 in Greensboro. Discusses African American leadership on campus. Graduated with a degree in History-Religion. Entered Emory’s graduate divinity program in 2016.

 

Courtesy of Desmond Coble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desmond Coble ’04
Born 1981 in Greensboro. Discusses UAAS’s first Step Show on campus and the racial barriers broken. Graduated with a degree in psychology. Coble is a special education teacher.

 

Greensboro College Gospel Choir: concert on February 29, 2016. Featured song “How Great Is Our God” begins at the 31:00 mark.

 

To Hear More from These Alumni and Others

As Greensboro College rang in the 21st century, it also brought in the largest student enrollments and a growing proportion of African American men and women.  In 2000-1, 180 African American students accounted for 17% of the total student body (1,073) and 12% (16 out of 132) all graduates that year. By 2014-15, total enrollment had decreased to 841, while the African American numbers had more than doubled to 302, or 36% of the total. At the end of that year, 34 African Americans (23%) were among the 155 total graduates becoming alumni and members of the “Long Green Line.”

Such explosive growth in African American enrollment led to expanding student activities, including the UAAS, the gospel choir, and athletics. The school continued to strive for inclusion and comfort among all of its students, staff and faculty.

 

The Waxing and Waning of the UAAS

The UAAS, under the leadership of Anitra Cantry (‘03), Desmond Coble (‘04), and others, continued to grow and be active on campus through the 2000s.

2002-2003 UAAS members. Desmond Coble is on the far left.

One of the two campus awards the UAAS won in 2002-2003.

Courtesy of Greensboro College

In 2003, Cantry expressed her hopes for how the UAAS would continue to thrive after she graduated:

“The United African American Society has spent over twenty years serving the campus of Greensboro College and the voices of minority men and women within that community. The members of UAAS have fought to bring a plethora of diverse events and programs to expose their fellow students to different types of cultures. In upcoming years, members of UAAS will be engaging in new ventures – striving to start African American Greek life and beginning a UAAS newsletter to keep the group better connected with African American alumni. With each incoming class there is more drive, motivation, and persistence than the class before. During the past four years, UAAS has grown to be one of the larger student organizations on campus. UAAS will undoubtedly continue to be successful in the future. With the participation of students, faculty, and alumni, UAAS will continue to grow and contribute to the College’s history.”

Desmond Coble echoed Cantry’s optimism when he added his “final thoughts” to the original African American GC exhibit he created as a work study student in 2003-2004:

“Today, UAAS is one of the biggest student organizations on the College’s campus. The mission is to bring the whole campus together through learning about the African American culture and learning about the other cultures that are present on campus. I hope that UAAS will continue to grow and to be a positive group on campus, continuing to educate people about African American culture through a variety of events. I would also like to see the students in UAAS to become active leaders in the organization and in the other organizations on campus.”

Unfortunately, since Cantry’s and Coble’s time on campus, student interest and energy in the UAAS has diminished.

 

The Gospel Choir

GCs Gospel Choir also experienced something of a decline through the mid-2000s. Jamar Tyree, Aliya Graves and Jamel Phillips, worked to rejuvenate it.  The Choir had a revival concert in 2015.

Greensboro College Gospel Choir rehearsal, 2016.

Jamel Philips singing the National Anthem on campus, 2016

Courtesy of Aliya Graves Courtesy of Jamel Phillips

 

Philips reflected the sentiments of predecessors like Coble, Tica Green ’94 and Bill McClain ’75. He said, “We are leaders so that other African American students do the same.”

 

Courtesy of Greensboro College

 

GC basketball star Simeon Howard, pictured here, began a web video series on the men’s basketball season in 2016. Visit The Ring to watch episodes.

 

 

 

African American GC athletes in action in 2015. All photos courtesy of Greensboro College:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

African American Faculty and Staff

The number of part-time and full-time African American staff and faculty at GC grew from 17 in 2003 to 33 in 2015.  Among that number were 26 staff members, representing 10 % of all staff, and 7 faculty members, representing 3% of all faculty.  By 2015, that number included three full-time female African American faculty members. Dr. Victor Archibong, Political Science and Legal Administration chair, remained the most senior African American faculty member with 29 years of service.  Security Chief Calvin Gilmore was the longest-serving African American staff member with 35 years of service. Ms. Angel Coble, Desmond Coble’s mother, is one of the most senior African American member of the house-keeping staff, having begun in 1999. Mary Rucker and Greg Currie are also long-time coworkers of Ms. Coble, with 18 and 15 years of service, respectively.

Tica Davis Green ’94, GC’s Director of Academic Success since 2013, was the most senior African American administrative staff member on campus. She compared her time as an employee to her time as a GC student in the 1990s and emphasized the College’s continuing need to intentionally support its growing minority student population.  She recalled “as a student, we were few in number compared to today and as a staff member, we are few in number…so few we can count on two hands, maybe?  There is a need to increase the representation for staff/administrators of color on the campus.  The student population of color has grown considerably, which is great.  However, the opportunity for students to find cultural support is minimal.  Generally speaking, the College is more conscientious of the needs our students of color have and has made efforts to meet those needs.  I love the fact that my co-workers and I can effectively work together to meet the needs of all students.  I love even more that I can be myself and share my thoughts and feelings in a safe environment.  I am committed to work hard to provide a safe place for learning and growth not only for my co-workers but for students as well.”

Greensboro College’s First African/African American Commencement Speaker

Courtesy of Greensboro College

 

The class of 2015’s graduation was a historical moment for GC. Dr. Emmanuel Dei-Tumi’s commencement speech was the first commencement speech offered by an African American. Dr. Dei-Tumi, who is originally from Ghana, is a business leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and motivational speaker.

 

 

 

 

He runs an organization called Foundation for Future Leaders International. Because of the hard times that Dr. Dei-Tumi faced as a child, he has devoted his life to helping young people overcome their own problems. Two of Dei-Tumi daughters attended Greensboro College. Kelvina Dei-Tumi will graduate in 2018. Sharon Dei-Tumi was a 2015 graduate who heard her father speak at her own graduation. “May 2nd, 2015, will forever remain special to me because I was able to share with my fellow graduates what it feels like to have someone in your life who believes in you as much as in the possibility of making the world a better place one step at a time.”

 

21st Century African American Greensboro and GC’s Contributions to Preserving its History

Greensboro’s African American population has grown in total size and proportion since over the past 15 years. In 2000, 85,338 African Americans represented 36.06 percent of the city’s total population. In 2010, the numbers had grown to 109,586, or 40.64 percent of the total.

African Americans continued to hold political power at the local level in Greensboro. In November 2007, Yvonne Johnson, Bennett alumna, was elected as Greensboro’s first African American mayor and second female mayor. She had served on the GSO city council since 1993 as one of two or three African American council members. She lost her bid for mayoral reelection to a Republican white man in 2009. Johnson has occasionally visited with GC history classes to discuss how race and gender affected local politics.

Since the early 2000s, Greensboro and Greensboro College have increasingly committed to preserving local African American history. Two G.C North Carolina History classes in 2007 and 2009 collected and preserved material relating to the history of J.C. Price School and three historic black churches in Warnersville. Visit the JC Price School web project to learn more.

GC students who worked on the Price project and some Price alumni and former teachers at the community presentation on the project, December 2007.

Courtesy of Greensboro College

 

 

 

Courtesy of Greensboro College

 

Veterans of Greensboro’s civil rights movement have also been regular class guests over the years. Lewis Brandon, Greensboro Civil Rights movement veteran and community activist, with Manbi Nyepon, GC history student, after one of Mr. Brandon’s regular guest lectures to GC classes, Spring 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of Greensboro College

On February 1, 2010, the 50th anniversary of Greensboro Sit-in, the Smithsonian-affiliated International Civil Rights Center and Museum opened in downtown Greensboro. GC History classes take regular field trips to the ICRCM. Shown here is a class of GC students on a field trip to the ICRM, Spring 2014.