March 12, 2012
An estimated 118 alumni and guests gathered to honor the past and celebrate the future when Black Alumni of SMU recognized 13 of its history makers and introduced the inaugural Black Alumni Scholarship February 17.
The honorees included award-winning athletes, outstanding student leaders and members of the “SMU 33,” a group of students who, in 1969, staged a sit-in to call attention for the need for more diverse faculty and curriculum.
The evening not only highlighted past accomplishments, but it also set the stage for future achievements through the Black Alumni Scholarship. The first scholarship will be awarded this spring to a rising sophomore or graduate student. To apply, a student must be a member of the Association for Black Students, maintain a 3.0 GPA and qualify for financial aid.
Anga Sanders ’70, a member of the “SMU 33″ honored that evening, called the scholarship “a long-awaited dream.”
A video that included photographs, newspaper clippings and other materials from the SMU Archives showed the University as it was when many attendees were students. The contrast between the SMU of yesterday and today was palpable for Detra Taylor ’72, another member of the “SMU 33.”
“It really is like being in a different place today,” Taylor said. “There is a sense of community and belonging now.”
The history of the black student experience at SMU was an inspiration – and revelation – for some current SMU students at the event.
“Hearing their stories made me proud, and it really motivates me to want to be more courageous as a student,” said Bri Evans, a first-year English major in Dedman College. “I want to affect positive change like they did.”
For Fred Leach, a senior majoring in history and film, the evening was personal: his father, Fred Leach, an SMU Trustee, and his uncle, Bobby Leach, are SMU alumni.
“This is their history, and learning more about it makes me even prouder of their accomplishments,” he said.
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