Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Two Black Women Graduate Students Shaping Intellectual & Cultural Life at SIUE

Danielle Hall leading black studies event at elementary school
Over the last few months, our program coordinators, Cindy Lyles and Danielle Hall, have become leading contributors to the intellectual and cultural life of our university. They have led two separate reading groups, written several blog entries related to African American history and culture, and installed a major exhibit on poetry. Overall, they have coordinated approximately 50 public humanities programs this semester that have drawn over 800 attendees.

Our program has benefited from the efforts of a talented, hardworking, and diverse group of contributors; they have collaborated in producing an array of projects and artistic compositions to serve large numbers of students and citizens. Cindy and Danielle are extending the progress that we have made over the years, and they are adding new dimensions to how we serve students and produce black studies @ SIUE and beyond.

Cindy, a graduate student in English, and Danielle, a graduate student in historical studies, are both poets and have ties to "conscious" communities. Cindy's writings on poetry and Danielle's writings on Katherine Dunham and music have been vital additions to our site. 

Undergraduate black women at our university constitute an under-served population, whose academic and cultural interests are inadequately acknowledged by traditional college courses. Black women also have few scholarly models at the university. Thus, the active interactions that Cindy and Danielle have with  African American women attendees and participants at our programs have become especially important features of black studies.  

Cindy Lyles & Professor Anushiya Ramaswamy at black studies event at Lovejoy Library

What might the results be if SIUE and other universities empowered more black women graduate students to take leadership roles and coordinate public humanities projects? What if more black women graduate students were encouraged and called on to contribute their intellectual gifts and cultural knowledge to the production of various projects and activities?   

This semester, I have become more and more aware of the significant contributions that just two sister graduate scholars can make to a program and the larger university.

1 comment:

Kim Poteet said...

Thanks for helping make visible what is too often invisible. Even when achievements are breath-taking, as is the work these two young women have produced, too often we hear or see nothing of it. Congratulations to them and thanks to you.