Wanda K. Brown, the director of library services at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, was named president-elect of the American Library Association. She will serve as president-elect for one year and then will take over the presidency at the conclusion of the association’s 2019 annual meeting.
The American Library Association was founded in 1853. It has more than 57,000 members worldwide. Brown will be the first president who is a librarian at a historically Black college or university.
Before joining the staff at Winston-Salem State University in 2016, Brown was associate dean of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. She joined the staff at Wake Forest in 1977. Brown is a former president of the North Carolina Library Association and former president of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Brown is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University and holds a master of library and information science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
To learn more about other pioneering African-American librarians, click here.
WINSTON-SALEM — Award-winning hip-hop recording artist and actor Common encouraged nearly 1,000 graduating students from Winston-Salem State University to follow and trust in their paths to achieve their dreams.
“You want to surround yourself with people who believe in your path,” Common said Friday. “Belief is contagious. As you climb up the mountain, it will be difficult at times.”
Common, who was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., was the keynote speaker at WSSU’s graduation ceremony, which was held at Bowman Gray Stadium before about 12,000 people.
During his 27-minute speech, Common talked about his career as an actor, author and a hip-hop artist.
He mixed humor with his remarks that elicited laughter from the crowd. Some women in the audience screamed as he spoke.
He told the graduates that he was inspired by NBA star Michael Jordan, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama and Jesus.
Common said he learned as a youth playing for a basketball team in Chicago that he had to practice and work hard to achieve greatness. Common said he dropped out of college to pursue a career as a hip-hop artist over the objection of his mother.
“I had found my path,” he said. “This voice of hip-hop would take me around the world.”
Common released his first album, “Can I borrow a Dollar,” in 1992, and he has since recorded nine others.
Common, 43, won a Grammy Award in 2003 for his song, “Love of My Life,” with singer-songwriter Erykah Badu. Common won a second Grammy for his 2007 album, “Southside.” He’s also a noted social activist.
During his speech, a young woman yelled to Common from the grandstand: “Here’s your wife.” Common replied, “Where are you; I want to meet you.”
The crowd laughed at the exchange.
Common told the graduating students they will face challenges in their lives, and they will not achieve their goals as quickly as they want. “If you see the mountaintop, you know you will get there,” he said.
After his speech, the WSSU Choir and Symphonic Band performed the song “Glory” from the 2014 movie “Selma.” The song, by Common and singer John Legend, won the Academy Award in February for Best Original Song.
Afterward, WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson presented Common with an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Common said he appreciated receiving the degree. “This is one of the best days of my life to get this honor for you all,” Common said. “I’m grateful. I got a doctorate.”
Olivia Stinson, a sophomore at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina was recognized as a 2012 L’Oreal Paris International Woman of Worth. Stinson, a business administration major from Charlotte, was honored for creating the Peers Engaged and Networking (PEN) Pals Book Club for the children of incarcerated parents. At age 13, Stinson used a $500 grant to start the project for children aged 12 to 19. The PEN Pals Book Club has evolved into a full support group for the children of parents who are in prison. She has now added a Be a Reader (BEAR) Book club for children aged 2 to 11. The clubs now not only provide books and other school supplies, but also food and other support. Since the program was established, more than 4,000 children have received benefits from the program.
For winning the Woman of Worth distinction, Stinson’s book clubs will receive a $10,000 contribution from L’Oreal Paris. To learn more, check out Stinson’s Huffington Post blog here.