Iris Outlaw

In May, MSPS celebrated the graduation of one hundred sixty one seniors and graduate students. We were honored to have Honorary Doctorate recipients Rev. Ray Hammond and Ms. Evelyn Hu at the Africana and Asian Pacific Islander celebrations. Rev. Hammond offered brief remarks encouraging the graduates to become involved in whatever community they reside. He reiterated several times “No effort is too small to make a difference in some’s life for the positive.” This has been the underlining mantra of MSPS in our student development initiatives. May 27 -31, 2014,we took Matthew Wong, chair of the Diversity Council, Shanice Cox, president of the Black Cultural Arts Counci, De`Lana Northbird, Native American Student Association of Notre Dame and Hector Melo Ruiz, graduate student to the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Indianapolis, IN. In the upcoming MSPS Blog posts, the students have shared their reflections on the week-long experiences. They were challenged and affirmed. They also have offered recommendations to enhance the 2014-2015 office programming aimed at Building Community. Enjoy the rest of the summer and see you in August.

Iris L. Outlaw Iris Outlaw `90 MSA

De’Lana’s Reflection

Matt’s Reflection 

Hector’s Reflection 

Shanice’s Reflection 

Who are Our Black Leaders?

During the 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dinner at Notre Dame, one of the discussion topics addressed the presences of Black Leaders. Much to the dismay of administrators of color, the students responded, “There are no black leaders.” We were in shock and appalled. Then we wondered what point of reference the students were basing their perspective.

Generationally, we automatically began asking how they could not consider the impact of Dr. King’s work on the racial and economic fronts. The latter is what led to his untimely death.  Yes, we thought they were clueless.  Then we began contemplating who in their lifetime would they look up to or aspire to be like.  We immediately thought of President Barack Obama.  Did he not fit the description of a black leader?  Although many entertainers are philanthropic, are their professional personas such that young people would want to immolate them?  In most cases not, so who are the black innovators and leaders.
That began the new MSPS campaign to highlight living entrepreneurs, activists and others making a difference.

Our charge became to educate the community and our Facebook and tweeter followers on people, who are having a significant impact on society.  Kudos, to our student intern, Steven Waller, who coordinated this project.  He researched people, who are under the radar to highlight. As the year progresses, we will continue this effort.

Thank you to those who have commended this project and shared or retweeted the information.

Have a Safe and Warm Spring Break.

Broaden Your Perspective

Branch 2

Njeri Williams and Taylor Branch

As we enter into the Fall season witnessing the changing landscape, I cannot stop thinking about the fruitful conversations that I have had with first year students regarding the impact of diversity and creating a healthy, welcoming community this month. It is apropos since they are beginning to explore various aspects of their identity and evolve into adulthood.  This is a critical time to determine the stances that they will take regarding social justice, politics and other issues.  It is imperative that one realizes that intersections of our personal being and these issues are inevitable.  How we conduct ourselves when interacting with our peers and those beyond Notre Dame is integral. Often we give freely in our volunteer efforts to those deemed disenfranchised, but are not receptive to our peers.  I challenge myself and others to remember we all have gifts and talents that we are willing to share if given the opportunity in genuine conversations. Let’s maintain open hearts, minds and spirits.

September was filled with lectures included in the Africana World series.  Pulitzer Prize winning author Taylor Branch spent October 1 giving a  keynote address at a community luncheon at the Charles Martin Youth Center and discussing journalism with Notre Dame Communication students and professionals. His day concluded with his “Myth & Miracles From the King Years” lecture in the Eck Hall of Law. He shared his motivation to become involved in writing about the Civil Rights Movement and its’ pivotal moments.  Many of his stories gave the audience a personal perspective of Dr. King, which had never before been revealed. The Notre Dame Center for Arts & Culture, MSPS and the Center for Civil & Human Rights sponsored the event.

The October Interrace Forum, Retail Me Not, began with What Would You Do? Shopping While Black 2 segment. Professor Tonya Bradford provided commentary on the impact of consumerism and the unknown power of consumers.  Read the blog written by Shanice Cox `15 for a complete review of the event ( Thank you, Professor Bradford for engaging the students, administrators and Michiana community members in an enlightening conversation. Knowledge is power; those present were charged to use their economic power in their fight for social justice.

I ask that you join the community in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by participating in the upcoming events.  La Alianza is sponsoring Fiesta del Sol and El Día de los Muetros with the Institute of Latino Studies and MSPS. Other events will be announced in the near future, please read the MSPS announcements closely.

Good Luck on your mid-terms and have a safe Fall Break.

Iris L. Outlaw

Iris L. Outlaw `90 MSA


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