Presence, Persistence and Success

The arts were a major component of the weekend's activities. Besides Brooks's performance, the roster included a concert by the student singing group Voices for Christ, a production of senior Kyo Freeman's play, If I Should Die Tonight, about the last day of Marvin Gaye's life, and a traditional Afrikan Heritage House Soul Session elicited impromptu offerings from alumni and students alike. African-Americans' use of the arts to elevate their condition in the United States was the subject of a discussion, with a faculty panel and audience members, led by Caroline Jackson-Smith, a professor of African-American studies and theater at Oberlin.

Individual alums from the '20s, '40s, '50s, and '80s spoke about their years at the College during the discussion Through the Generations: The Black Experience at Oberlin. And at Saturday night's dinner and reception, at which Oberlin College trustee William L. Robinson '63 gave the keynote address, the group inducted the African-American Alumni/ae Hall of Fame's first class: Mary Jane Patterson, Class of 1862; George A. Walker, Jr. '41; Albert McQueen '52; and Charlene Cole-Newkirk '74.

This year, as during past reunions, alumni welcomed student involvement in all of the weekends' activities. Tammy Dowley-Blackman '90 devised a career and networking session in which alumni discussed with students career interests and issues they'll confront in the work world. They also helped students polish their resumes and develop interview skills. Flyers that proclaimed "The Real World Awaits! Be Ready for It," succeeded in attracting many people, says African-American Alumni/ae Committee chair-person Alicia Jacobs '77. The notices were so successful, in fact, that the three-hour-long session proved too short a time to make maximum use of all the expertise available, she says.



Photographs courtesy of Charlene Cole-Newkirk