LOUISVILLE – Simmons College has become accredited as the first private Historically Black College and University in Kentucky and is only the second HBCU in the state, along with Kentucky State University, a public institution.
“Simply put, accreditation is value,” explained President Kevin Cosby. “It is proof that Simmons has met national standards necessary to produce graduates who are prepared to enter into selected professions.” He explained, “The accreditation of Simmons College of Kentucky will have a ripple effect throughout west Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky and is the most monumental achievement, by African Americans, to take place in the state in the last 100 years.”
Most HBCUs were founded in the post-Civil War era, when Blacks were not allowed to attend college with Whites. Today, many private HBCUs are struggling to remain keep their doors open. Last summer, St. Paul’s College, a private Black institution in Lawrenceville, Va., ceased operating after being in existence since 1888. Its 35 buildings and 183 acres have been put up for public auction.
Two female students at Fresno State University, Nadia Lewis and Jamila Ahmed, recently made history by being named the first African-American women to win the Henry Clay Invitational Debates. The annual debate, which was held at the University of Kentucky this year, was first established in 1971 and is one of the nation’s oldest and largest U.S. policy, varsity debate tournaments in America, reportsThe Collegian at Fresno State.
On Oct. 7, Lewis and Ahmed took home the first and second place titles, respectively, after competing against 286 speakers from 30 schools. The paper reports that it was was Lewis’ first semester participating in the school’s debate team. Now, she is ranked 29th in the nation. As for Ahmed, it is her second year in debate, and her latest victory catapulted her to rank 16th in the country. “Nadia Lewis and Jamila Ahmed have accomplished a feat that many debaters around the country can only dream of achieving,” Dr. Shanara Reid-Brinkley, Director of Debate at University of Pittsburgh, told the paper.
“And, it is important to note that they did so as virtual novices competing in the varsity level division. Their competitors are likely to have five to eight more years of debate experience than these young women,” she added. The topic of this year’s debate was: “The U.S. Federal Government should substantially increase statutory and/or judicial restrictions on the war powers authority of the president of the United States in one or more of the following areas: cyber operations, indefinite detention, targeted killing such as drones, and deploying the armed forces into hostile places.”
As opposed to executing standard methods in debate, both Lewis and Ahmed took a non-traditional route in validating their argument. Instead, they drew metaphoric responses by referencing their personal backgrounds and the experiences they face as a minority through the use of poetry and song.
Frank X. Walker, an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky, has been named as the poet laureate of Kentucky by Steve Beshear, the state’s governor. He is the first African-American poet to hold that position. Walker also serves as the university’s director of African-American and Africana studies program.He will take the position of poet laureate in a public ceremony that is to take place at the state capitol building in Frankfort.
Walker, who is the author of a number of books, has taught at the University of Kentucky since 2010. Before that, he was a member of the faculty at Northern Kentucky University and at Eastern Kentucky University. He has become well-known for creating the term “Affrilachia,” which is designed to unify Appalachian and African-American culture and history.