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125th anniversary of first Otterbein African-American graduate headlines Black History Month on campus

125th anniversary of first Otterbein African-American graduate headlines Black History Month on campus

This year, Otterbein commemorates the 125th anniversary of the university’s first African-American graduate, William Henry Fouse, class of 1893. Fouse’s anniversary will be celebrated at the Diversity Alumni Awards on Feb. 9.

In his Commencement address, Fouse described his vision of a world where freedom and equality reign as the governing factors of life.

“We hasten to leave the shadows of the past, that period of sham and iniquity, to salute the epoch when universal liberty was proclaiming and when all men became free and equal before God and before the Republic.”

Fouse concluded his remarks with: “For whither you go, we will go; and where you lodge we will lodge; your people shall be our people and your God our God; and where you die we will die and there will be buried; the Lord do so unto us and more if ought but death part you and us. And when these glad times shall have ushered in, then shall the people know indeed that mind is the money that makes the body rich, and that the adder is not better than the eel because he wears a painted skin.”

In the May 12, 1978, edition of the Tan & Cardinal, Otterbein Professor of History Harold Hancock wrote on the life of Fouse during the 85th anniversary of his graduation.

“During his life of service, Fouse taught school in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky serving as principal of Dunbar School in Lexington, Kentucky, for twenty-four years. In Kentucky, he organized the Bluegrass Oratorical Association and Bluegrass Athletic Association, instituted the Penny Saving Bank Plan in schools and guided the development of Dunbar into a modern school. He became president of the Kentucky National Educational Association. Just before he retired in 1937, he received an M.A. from the University of Cincinnati. In the same year, his alma mater recognized his outstanding service in education by awarding him the honorary degree of Doctor of Pedagogy (Education). In his letter of acceptance to President Walter G. Clippinger, he acknowledged that his alma mater was largely responsible for ‘helping him to set the sails that have all to do in determining the way I have gone.’”

Today, Fouse’s name is remembered for his trailblazing accomplishments at Otterbein and education initiatives and positions throughout the Midwest. The Otterbein House of Black Culture (HBC) is also named in honor of Fouse. The HBC, established in 1994, serves as a meeting and social space for African-American students. The HBC promotes cultural exchange through programming and discussions for the Otterbein community.

Otterbein will also be holding multiple events throughout February to honor and educate during Black History Month. They are as follows:

Dialogue Across Campus Series
Co-sponsored by the Office of Social Justice and Activism, the Center for Student Involvement and the student organization Justice League.

  • Behind the Scenes: Fake News, 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7, Roush 330
    • Critical conversations around the media, representations, fact-based news, tropes and stereotypes will be discussed through activities, video clips and discussion, as students gain valuable skills in media literacy.
  • Behind the Scenes: PriceTag, 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 8, Library 127
    • This event will engage in critical dialogue around the justice system and socioeconomic status through activities, media breakdowns and discussion focusing on classism, crime, cycles of poverty and the school to prison pipeline.
  • Social Justice 101, 4 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13, Towers 110
    • Learn the basics of social justice, social identities, power and privilege through activities, games and discussion. Prepare to laugh, maybe cry, and learn a whole lot.
  • Privilege Give and Take, 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, Library 127
    • What is privilege? What do we do with it? Come to this event to learn about privilege through games and dialogue on social identities and social inequality. Then, learn how to use privilege to be an effective ally.
  • Behind the Scenes: Columbusing, 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 21, Roush 330
    • Columbusing is stumbling upon things that have already been discovered. This event examines global racism, xenophobia, assimilation and cultural appropriation through shared experiences, social media depictions and dynamic dialogue. 
  • Daily Dystopia, 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28, Library 127
    • What is the toll of activism and advocacy? This event helps attendees create self-care plans, process through the trauma of experiencing oppression and develop a sense of resiliency. Self-care de-stressors  and brave space dialogue will facilitate this event.

Diversity Alumni Awards
The Otterbein Office of Alumni Relations will hold the Diversity Alumni Awards at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9. During the dinner, Otterbein will honor the 2018 Diversity Alumni Awardees, Kyle Williams ’07 and Melica Hampton ’04, as well as the 125th anniversary of Fouse’s graduation. Alumni RSVPs are needed by Feb. 6.

Sustaining our Communities: Conversations Across Intersectionality
The Office of Social Justice and Activism will host a conference, “Sustaining our Communities: Conversations Across Intersectionality,” from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, in the Campus Center. The keynote speaker is Wittenberg University Professor of Philosophy Julius Bailey. Topics to be addressed include the impact of trauma and the importance of self-care, environmental justice, financial literacy, social justice for beginners, crime and cycles of poverty, and activating your organization as an agent of change. Registration to attend the conference is free and open online.