AKA march to Foster for awareness
Event honors first black students who attended UniversityBy Mari Johnson | 03/10/2010 12:07am
A few drops of rain were not going to stop the Alpha Kappa Alphas from celebrating the integration into the University Tuesday night as they marched on from the steps of Gorgas Library to Foster Auditorium.
“It begins with you,” said Brenda Elliot, assistant director of athletics academic programs.
The Theta Sigma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. paid homage to James Hood and Vivian Malone, the University’s first black students, for paving the way for minority students to attend the University with the “March to the School House Doors” event.
Singing “We Shall Overcome ” to the doors of Foster, a large group of students formed inside for the forum to discuss the issues of Foster Auditorium and the issues that minority students face on campus.
After viewing “Segregation’s Last Stand,” a video discussing the history behind Foster and what significance it has on the University, the floor was opened for discussion. A few UA students and faculty members on a panel addressed the questions from attendees.
Angel King, a junior majoring in political science, had a few things to say when asked why “The Machine” is still allegedly controlling the success of minorities on campus even after integration.
“The reason we had such peaceful integration during those times is because the dean of administration pulled designated whites to interact with the blacks and actually set an example on campus,” King said.
Homecoming was also a pressing issue discussed throughout the forum. Although homecoming is full of festivities, the panel explained just how corrupt it can be.
“The last time we had a black homecoming queen, the student section turned their back on her. The majority of the first-string players are African-American, so how could you turn your back on the homecoming queen and yet cheer for black football players?,” Elliot said.
Dr. Pamela Payne Foster, a faculty member in the medical school, explained the value of a historically black college and how differently if affects an African-American student.
“There is a value at HBCUs as far as giving their black students their history and I feel as though there is a seclusion here that has been institutionalized and needs to be broken,” Foster said. “Vivian Malone’s words were that she was opening up doors.”
When asked what Foster Auditorium meant to them, the panel all gave extremely different answers, but in turn explained why Foster Auditorium is so special to the University.
“It should be the power of being alone and the strength to break away from what the system is,” King said.
Towards the end of the ceremony, Foster’s husband, William Foster, Jr., congratulated the women of Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc. for their strides with the march.
He said he felt proud of them for holding the march and that it was positive to learn how to become active at this university and in this community.
“Think outside the box and be productive in changing this school,” Elliott said. “You can make a difference.”