Elon hosts Black History Month Dinner

North Carolina black and African-American civic and political leaders shared their experiences with students.

The Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education, the East and Oaks neighborhoods, and the Political Engagement Work group hosted a dinner on Feb. 6 in McKinnon Hall with black and African-American civic leaders to kick off Black History Month.

The community leaders shared stories of their work in public life, offering students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn about the lives of the invited guests, rather than strictly talk about politics.

“The cool thing about the neighborhood dinners across campus is that we really value story sharing,” said Sylvia Wade, the community director for the East Neighborhood. “I think this really provides an opportunity for leaders to step out of their comfort zone and share a little bit about themselves that isn’t focused on their policy.”

Elliott Lynch, a former Democratic candidate for the 64th district seat of the North Carolina House of Representatives, said he didn’t grow up with any black role models in civic life, but he hopes students today can see black political leaders as good examples.

“It’s always important for us to have role models, and it’s always important for young people to be exposed to old people like me so you can maybe learn something and ask questions,” Lynch said.

Civic leaders also talked about the importance of local government.

“You need to at least be aware of what happens in local politics because, in most situations, your local government impacts you more than the national government,” Lynch said.

Guests in attendance:

  • Tony Foriest, former North Carolina state senator
  • Elliot Lynch, former candidate for the 64th district seat of the North Carolina House of Representatives
  • DiAnne Enoch, town clerk, Town of Elon
  • Sugelema Lynch, community organizer, Down Home NC
  • Devonte Wilson, president, Young Democrats of North Carolina
  • Lora Cubbage, judge, North Carolina Superior Court

Elon University attendees:

  • Naeemah Clark, professor of cinema & television arts
  • Randy Williams, associate vice president for inclusive excellence and assistant professor of education
  • Kenn Gaither, associate dean of the School of Communications and professor of strategic communications
  • Amy Johnson, executive director of the Elon Core Curriculum and associate professor of history