Vote Now, and Every Day, for Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant

Boone Tavern a 10Best Selection
Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant: a 10Best Selection

Berea’s historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant is a contender as the Best Eco-Friendly Hotel in a travel award contest conducted by USA TODAY. A panel of experts selected Boone Tavern as a nominee in the latest 10Best Readers’ Choice award. The contest, which is being promoted by USA TODAY, gives voters four weeks to vote for the candidate of their choice among 20 U.S. hotels that have gone above and beyond to promote environmental sustainability. All voting is digital and the 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest is accessible on the website. Voters can choose Boone Tavern at:

10Best Eco Hotels

As the contest organizers point out, Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant proves that you don’t need to be new to be ‘green.’ The hotel, built in 1909, has earned LEED Gold status through its eco-forward renovation, completed in 2009, which added an energy efficient heating and cooling system, energy star lighting, “green approved” cleaning products and a comprehensive recycling program in partnership with Berea College that owns the hotel.

All the hotels in the contest have earned certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the U.S. Green Building Council. Boone Tavern achieved the Gold standard by LEED.

 “Boone Tavern is competing with ‘green’ hotels all across the United States,” said Gary McCormick, General Manager of Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant. “Many others are modern properties in large, metropolitan areas, including New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Beverly Hills, California, so the competition is keen. Even so, we know that our guests like the historic charm and Southern hospitality that blend with state-of-the art, environmentally friendly facilities making Boone Tavern the ‘greenest’ hotel in Kentucky and this region.”

In choosing the 20 nominees for Best Eco-Friendly Hotel, 10Best editors considered the input of a panel of hotel experts, as well as industry awards, LEED certification level and guest reviews.

McCormick says the contest allows each person to vote for Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant once a day during the run of the contest, which ends Monday, August 1st, 2016 at 11:59am EDT. “We hope our guests will vote for Boone Tavern daily and will encourage their friends, families, and co-workers to do the same,” he said.


Alumni Memorial Building

The concept for the Alumni Memorial Building began in 1945 during conversations between Berea College alumni and President Francis S. Hutchins on how to commemorate Berea College’s first 100 years. In addition, the idea that the building would serve as a World War II memorial also surfaced.

Alumni Building

The cost of the 52,000-square foot building was to be shared by alumni and other benefactors. The Kresge Foundation of Detroit offered $50,000 to the College on a matching basis. Other major donors included the James Foundation of New York City, the Louis D. Beaumont Foundation of Cleveland, The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times Foundation, the Chrysler and Koppin Company of Detroit and the Kroger Company of Louisville. Construction funds continued to be donated during the 1950s; ultimately 6,000 alumni contributed about $375,000.

The total cost of the Alumni Memorial Building (which also included removal of Gilbert Cottage, Contrast House, the Customer Service Building and renovation of the Fairchild basement) was $1.2 million.

Plans and specifications were approved on April 11, 1958, and in November 1958 the Board of Trustees voted to start construction. On July 25, 1959, during Summer Reunion, the site was dedicated, and a groundbreaking event was held in September 1959. However, initial construction bids were rejected in April 1960, and construction did not begin until that summer. The building’s cornerstone was laid during Homecoming on November 26, 1960.

Inside the cornerstone were placed the following: the Alumni Association Constitution; a list of contributors to the building fund; a copy of “Berea Beloved”; baccalaureate addresses by President Hutchins; a copy of the Alumni Magazine; a copy of the November 22, 1960 Pinnacle; a copy of Berea’s First Century; and a copy of Bereaway.

The building was constructed of steel and concrete with exterior curtain walls of red bricks laid in running bond. The flat roof used wide overhanging soffits and the main floor continued beyond the glass curtain walls to form cantilevered porches on the south and west sides. Perpendicular diaphragm walls were incorporated along the north and east walls to break up the wide surface planes and to help support the plastic flow of long broad walls.

Alumni Building Construction

The Alumni Memorial Building opened on February 11, 1961, and was dedicated to “the improved quality of students’ lives.” Trustees Earl Robbins, Russell Todd and W.D. Weatherford spoke at the dedication ceremonies. Weatherford said, “We have been feeding our students for 90 years in basements; it’s time we moved them out” into the sunshine.

The main floor housed the Alumni Offices, Office of Coordinator of Social Activities, the Snack Bar, Recreation Room and the main lobby. The ground level was devoted to food service personnel, storage, mechanical and dining rooms. Separate and individual rooms were given and dedicated to honor Berea College friends: the Anna Murch Hutchins Dining Room (named in honor of the wife of William J. Hutchins) and given by the Charles Seabury family; the Mary Cocks Welsh Dining Room (named in honor of a 1917 alumna who served as Superintendent of Boarding Halls from 1920-1955); the Dr. William E. and Esther T. Barton Memorial Room, which was used by the YMCA, YWCA and other religious groups (Barton was a College Trustee from 1895-1930; Oberlin Theological Seminary graduate; clergyman; author-biographer of Abraham Lincoln; and donor of West Pinnacle – Barton Pinnacle – to the College);

the H.E. Taylor Conference Room (named for the College’s Business Manager and organist from 1906-34); the William Jesse Baird Student Lounge (named for a 1915 graduate who was Director of the Farm in the Vocational School from 1924-32, Dean of the Foundation School from 1925-44, Director of Teacher Training from 1939-44, President of Martha Berry Schools and President of Morehead State College from 1946-51); the Raymond B. Drukker Dining Room (named for a faculty member and Executive Assistant to the President from 1944 until his death in 1960); and the Richard Noah Mitchell Dining Room.

At the opening of the upper floor and snack bar on February 11, 1961, President Hutchins and Dean Louis Smith sang a duet of “Good Berea.” Food services and the dining halls opened for student use on March 30, 1961, making the whole building fully operational.

The dedication of the Alumni Memorial building occurred 55 years ago, on April 15, 1961.

Information for this article was excerpted from Building A College – An Architectural History of Berea College by Robert Piper Boyce, Ph.D.

Black Music Ensemble Performs with Loyola Marymount University Gospel Choir in Los Angeles

Photography courtesy of Loyola Marymount University.

The Selma-Berea Connection

March on Selma

March 7, 2016 marked the 51st anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” – the first attempt by civil rights advocates to march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital of Montgomery to draw attention to the suppression of voting rights in Selma (and across Alabama and the South).

March 9, 2016 was the 51st anniversary of the largely symbolic “Second March,” which was a short march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge to draw further attention to the issues that were roiling at the time.

From March 21-25, 1965, the “Third March” took place. This march was successful and helped set the stage for changes to federal law and to personal attitudes. As Berea College President Lyle P. Roelofs wrote in an article to commemorate the 50th anniversary of these marches, “…58 Berea College students and faculty – whites and blacks – answered the clarion call of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to join the march from Selma to Montgomery after Bloody Sunday’s events played out tragically on television sets across the country.”

You can read two articles from the Berea College Magazine that commemorated the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the marches and the College’s participation.

In addition, you can read Berea College alumna Crystal Wylie’s Richmond Register article on last summer’s Civil Rights Tour are now available. Follow links below:

In addition, the following is provided as background information. The information was sourced and excerpted from, CNN and Wikipedia.


Between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led a voting registration campaign in Selma, the county seat of Dallas County, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When the SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county law enforcement officials, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern

Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern. The SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute.

During January and February, 1965, King and the SCLC led a series of demonstrations in Selma to the Dallas County Courthouse. On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper. In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7.

Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. They found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over 50 people.

“Bloody Sunday” was televised around the world. King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection, King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9 but turned it around at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant members of the SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest in order to win reforms to active opposition of racist institutions.

On March 21, the final (and successful) march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was signed into law, completing the process that King had hoped for. Yet Bloody Sunday was about more than winning a federal act; it highlighted the political pressures King was negotiating at the time, between movement radicalism and federal calls for restraint, as well as the tensions between SCLC and SNCC.

– See more at:

From CNN

Facts: Throughout March 1965, demonstrators faced violence as they attempted to march from Selma,

Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery, Alabama (a distance of about 50 miles), to demand the right to vote for black people.

One of the pivotal days was March 7, when 17 people were injured by police, including future U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA). Since that time, March 7th has been known as “Bloody Sunday.”


February 1965 – Marches and demonstrations over voter registration prompt Alabama Governor George C. Wallace to ban nighttime demonstrations in Selma and Marion, Alabama.

February 18, 1965 – During a march in Marion, state troopers attack the demonstrators. State trooper James Bonard Fowler shoots and kills Jimmie Lee Jackson. Fowler was charged with murder in 2007 and in 2010 pled guilty to manslaughter.

March 7, 1965 – About 600 people begin a march from Selma to Montgomery, led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams. Marchers demand an end to discrimination in voter registration. At the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state and local lawmen attack the marchers with billy clubs and tear gas, driving them back to Selma.

March 9, 1965 – Martin Luther King, Jr. leads another march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The march is largely symbolic; as arranged previously, the crowd turns back at a barricade of state troopers. Demonstrations are held in cities across the U.S. to show solidarity with the Selma marchers.

March 9, 1965 – President Lyndon Johnson speaks out against the violence in Selma and urges both sides to respect the law.

March 9, 1965 – Unitarian Universalist minister James Reeb, in Selma to join marchers, is attacked by a group of white men and beaten. He dies of his injuries two days later.

March 10, 1965 – The U.S. Justice Department files suit in Montgomery, Alabama, asking for an order to prevent the state from punishing any person involved in a demonstration for civil rights.

March 17, 1965 – Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. rules in favor of the marchers. “The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups.”

March 18, 1965 – Governor Wallace goes before the state legislature to condemn Judge Johnson’s ruling. He states that Alabama cannot provide the security measures needed, blames the federal government and says he will call on the federal government for help.

March 19, 1965 – Wallace sends a telegram to President Johnson asking for help, saying that the state does not have enough troops and cannot bear the financial burden of calling up the Alabama National Guard.

March 20, 1965 – President Johnson issues an executive order federalizing the Alabama National Guard and authorizes whatever federal forces the U.S. Secretary of Defense deems necessary.

March 21, 1965 – About 3,200 people march out of Selma for Montgomery under the protection of federal troops. They walk about 12 miles a day and sleep in fields at night.

March 25, 1965 – The marchers reach the state capitol in Montgomery. The number of marchers grows to about 25,000.

August 6, 1965 – President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on August 3 and the U.S. Senate on August 4.

From Wikipedia

The three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 were part of the movement to seek voting rights for blacks underway in Selma, Alabama. By highlighting racial injustice in the South, they contributed to passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement in the overall Civil Rights Movement. Activists publicized the three protest marches to walk the 54-mile highway from Selma to Montgomery, the Alabama state capital, as showing the desire of black citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression.

Southern state legislatures had passed and maintained a series of discriminatory requirements and practices that had disenfranchised most of the millions of African Americans across the South since the turn of the century. An African-American group known as the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) launched a voter registration campaign in Selma in 1963. Joined by organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), they began working that year in a renewed effort to register black voters.

Finding resistance by white officials to be intractable, even after the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended legal segregation, the DCVL invited Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and activists of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to join them. The SCLC brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to Selma in January 1965. Local and regional protests began, and at least 3,000 people were arrested by the end of February. According to Joseph A. Califano, Jr., who served as head of domestic affairs for President Lyndon Johnson between 1965 and 1969, President Johnson viewed King as an essential partner in getting the Voting Rights Act enacted. Califano, who the President also assigned to monitor the final march to Montgomery, noted that Johnson and King spoke by telephone on January 15 to plan a strategy for drawing attention to the injustice of using literacy tests and other barriers to stop black Southerners from voting and that King had later informed the President on February 9 of his decision to use Selma to illustrate the injustices.

On February 26, 1965, activist and deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being mortally shot several days earlier by a state trooper during a peaceful march in nearby Marion, Alabama. To defuse and refocus the community’s outrage, SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, who was directing the SCLC’s Selma Voting Rights Movement, called for a march of dramatic length, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. Bevel had been working on his Alabama Project for voting rights since late 1963.

The first march took place on March 7, 1965, organized locally by Bevel, Amelia Boynton and others. State troopers and county sheriff’s deputies attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas after they passed over the county line, and the event became known as “Bloody Sunday.” Boynton was beaten unconscious, and the media publicized worldwide a picture of her lying wounded on the bridge.

The second march took place March 9. Troopers, police and marchers confronted each other at the county end of the bridge, but when the troopers stepped aside to let them pass, King led the marchers back to Selma. He was obeying a federal injunction while seeking protection from federal court for the march. That night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, who had come to Selma to march with the second group. Many other clergy and sympathizers from across the country also gathered for the second march.

The violence of Bloody Sunday and of Reeb’s death led to a national outcry and some acts of civil disobedience, targeting both the Alabama state and federal governments. The protesters demanded protection for the Selma marchers and a new federal voting rights law to enable African-Americans to register and vote without harassment. President Johnson, whose administration had been working on a voting rights law, spoke at a nationally televised joint session of Congress on March 15 to ask for the bill’s introduction and passage.

With Alabama Governor George C. Wallace refusing to protect the marchers, President Johnson committed to do so. The third march began on March 21. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under federal command and many FBI agents and federal Marshals, the marchers averaged about 10 miles per day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as Jefferson Davis Highway. The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. By then, thousands had joined the campaign, and a crowd estimated at 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights.

The route is memorialized as the “Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights Trail,” and is designated as a U.S. National Historic Trail.

Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble Perform In Concert with the Chieftains

The Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble

The Chieftains, an internationally renowned traditional Irish band and the Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble joined forces in a concert Wednesday, March 9, at the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Performing Arts Center in Richmond, Kentucky.

The Dublin, Ireland-based Chieftains were looking for a group to sing at their (EKU) concert as part of their American tour. Elizabeth DiSavino, director of the Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble, volunteered the group of Berea College students, which includes Jay Callahan, Blake Durham, Adam Hudson, Jonathan Kemp, Joseph Muth, Julie Nelms, Tyler Rosso, Michelle Watson-Jones, Whitney Worthington and Jared Zanet. Using Appalachian music as its touchstone, Berea’s Folk-Roots Ensemble branches into other kinds of traditional and roots-based music.

During the 90-minute concert, Berea’s Folk-Roots Ensemble sang three selections, which were all accompanied by the Chieftains: Never Give All the Heart (featuring the three women singers); Shenandoah; and Anthem, The Long Journey Home. DiSavino said “It was a thrill to get to sing with these titans of Irish music!”

The Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble and the Chieftains

The Chieftains, who formed their band in 1962 in Dublin, have popularized traditional Irish music around the world. Primarily an instrumental group that prominently features uilleann pipes (also known as the national bagpipe of Ireland), they often collaborate with well-known guest artists in their concerts from a wide range of musical styles. Roger Daltrey, James Galway, Art Garfunkel, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, Madonna, Willie Nelson, Luciano Pavarotti, Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Sting and The Rolling Stones have all performed with the Chieftains.

The Chieftains have won many awards, including six Grammys and the honorary title of ‘Ireland’s Musical Ambassadors’ from the Irish Government in 1989. They have performed before worldwide audiences that have included Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and Pope John Paul II in venues as diverse as New York’s Carnegie Hall, the National Concert Hall in Dublin and the Great Wall of China.

Berea’s Fearless Female Founders

Women were equal partners in the founding of Berea College community. Shoulder to shoulder with their husbands, Matilda Fee and Elizabeth Rogers were integral players in the challenging drama of Berea’s earliest years.

Establishing any community in an untamed wilderness that had to be cleared of dense thickets was a notable accomplishment, one that required perseverance and lots of hard work. Yet, an even greater accomplishment was establishing a community here based on the equality of all people. In Kentucky during the pre-Civil War era, mainstream society considered it radical – almost unimaginable – to acknowledge blacks and whites, and women and men, as social equals.

Matilda Fee - wife of John G. Fee, founder of Berea College

Matilda Fee

Matilda and John Fee were fiercely intent on organizing a church and school for “all people …” from all “nations and climes” on the Berea ridge. In spite of initial support from Cassius Clay, they found resistance was rampant beyond the ridge. Pro-slavery factions called Berea “a menace to Kentucky’s best interests” and “a stench in the nostrils of all true Kentuckians.” Mobs repeatedly threatened violence. Matilda Fee saw her husband beaten severely on numerous occasions and tended his wounds.

In describing Matilda’s qualities, John Fee said he found in her “that affection, sympathy, courage, cheer, activity, frugality and endurance, which few could have combined, and which greatly sustained me in the dark and trying hours that attended most of our pathway.”

Elizabeth Rogers came with her husband, John A. R. Rogers, to help the Fees in their work and she was Berea’s first female teacher. In her memoirs to her children, Elizabeth Rogers tells of their arrival on the Berea ridge. “It was a rainy, March day, your father and I made our entrance into Berea. We stood on the hill, looking across through the trees at the little slab schoolhouse that was to be the beginning of Berea College. The unpainted schoolhouse with its broken windows hardly seemed a worthy field for my aesthetic, scholarly husband, but he saw the work with prophetic eye . . . and only nerved him to more constant toil. On that drizzly afternoon, it needed a prophet’s eye to see in the most distant future, even a ray of hope. My vision was clouded, and the wet, drooping branches accorded with my spirit, and my heart was heavy. Once in the harness however, I never looked back, and entered upon the work with a zeal and enthusiasm second only to your father’s, and our work grew like magic.”

Elizabeth Rogers

Elizabeth Rogers

At the time, Berea was a sparsely inhabited wilderness where the fledgling school opened in the old district schoolhouse, a one-room clapboard building. The school was like a seed planted in fertile soil, eventually becoming a college that would “educate not merely in a knowledge of the sciences, so called, but also in the principles of love in religion, and liberty and justice in government.” Thus learning, informed by the gospel, would make the nascent Berea College a school for reform.

Such reform is not always welcomed. Vigilantism continued in the region until Christmas Eve, 1859, when mobs drove the Fee and Rogers families and their fellow workers from the state. Forced to leave all personal possessions behind, their exodus from Berea took place in the midst of a blinding snowstorm. Tragically, Tappan – John and Matilda’s youngest son – died from diphtheria after exposure to the cold.

Facing such hardships, more timid individuals may have allowed Berea’s utopian experiment – unique to the whole American experience – to exist only as a footnote in the annals of history were it not for the fact that before the end of the Civil War, the exiles returned to resume their “never relinquished work.” Such a spirit of strong determination and deep commitment continues to inspire women and men. In her memoirs, Elizabeth Rogers said, “That first school was to be a feeler. The people from the mountains and from near plantations flocked to the school doors asking for admittance. All that we could possibly do was done to create a feeling in favor of the school, and we succeeded better than we had even hoped.   . . . Carried on by an enthusiasm which our pupils shared, we laid broad and sound the foundation of hard study and the beginnings of Berea College, though so small, were all in the right direction.”

Bereans Still Making Black History

From Berea’s earliest days, African Americans have been central to the history of Berea College and the wider world. In this last installment of features for Black History Month 2016, we feature a diverse group of Berea College alumni who, each in their own way, continue to make Black History.

Dr. Andrew Baskin

Dr. Andrew Baskin

Andrew Baskin, who graduated from Berea in 1973, is an Associate Professor of General and African and African American Studies at Berea College. He also is Program Chair of African and African American Studies and co-editor of The Griot: The Journal of African American Studies. In 2014, he received the Professor of the Year award for “emphasizing academic excellence.” Professor Baskin, who has been teaching at Berea College since 1983, also received the 2004 Seabury Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2002 Elizabeth Miles Service Award for Community Service. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Lincoln Foundation.

Hasan Davis

Hasan Davis

Hasan Davis graduated from Berea College in 1992 with a degree in Communications. In spite of learning disabilities, a pre-teen arrest, and social and academic challenges before coming to Berea, Hasan persisted in finding the courage to change. And change he did! At Berea, Hasan was elected president of the student body, voted Homecoming King and received the Navy V-12 award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to campus life and interracial kinship. After earning his undergraduate degree from Berea, Hasan graduated from law school and served as Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice. Hasan is the founder of HD Solutions and author of a book, Written Off. Since 1997, Davis has been bringing history alive through his traveling, one-man Chautauqua performances that give voice to overlooked heroes such as A.A. Burleigh: Civil War Soldier; York: Explorer; and Joe Louis: America’s Champion. As an author and motivational speaker, Hasan remains dedicated to investing in the lives of others.

Quentin Savage

Quentin Savage

Using classroom knowledge to apply to real-world situations, Quentin Savage, a current student and social justice activist, achieved national recognition by receiving the Mario Savio Award for Young Activists in November 2015. Dr. Alicestyne Turley, director of the Carter G. Woodson Center, and Monica Jones, director of the Black Cultural Center, endorsed him by writing accounts of his work in Berea as one of the founders of “Bereans 4 Michael Brown (B4MB)” with students Anna Loveless and Candice King.

Djuan Trent

Djuan Trent

Born and reared in Columbus, Georgia, Djuan Trent came to Kentucky after being accepted to Berea College. A 2009 graduate, she majored in Theatre Performance. In 2010, Trent was crowned Miss Kentucky, making her the fourth black woman in Miss Kentucky history to hold the title. In 2011, Trent went on to compete in the Miss America pageant, finishing as a top semi-finalist and voted Contestant’s Choice by her peers. Trent is a volunteer for the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center and is a motivational speaker at schools, events and conferences. She also writes on her personal blog and keeps up with many of her fans via her flourishing social media sites. She remains connected with Berea College by serving as a board member for the Berea College Young Alumni Advisory Council.


Alumna, Naomi Tutu – Speaking Out for Justice and Common Ground

Naomi Tutu Speaking at a Berea College Convocation in 2014

Naomi Tutu Speaking at a Berea College Convocation in 2014

Nontombi Naomi Tutu was born in 1960 in Krugersdorp (an area of Soweto), South Africa. She was the fourth child and third daughter of Desmond and Leah Nomalizo Tutu. She and her siblings were educated internationally. At age 6, Naomi went from her home in Soweto to a boarding school located 1,000 miles away in Mbabane, Swaziland. The Waterford KaMhlaba School was one of 11 international United World Colleges, an educational movement that brings together students from all over the world based on merit, regardless of their ability to pay. Naomi also received part of her early education in England, where her father spent much of his early career.

After finishing her secondary education, Naomi continued her studies in the United States. She graduated from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Economics and French in 1983.

Naomi remained in Kentucky for graduate school, earning a master’s degree in International Economic Development from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Economic Development at the University of Kentucky. She later would go on to complete courses toward a Ph.D. from the prestigious London School of Economics.

At age 24, just two years after graduating from Berea College, Naomi founded the Tutu Foundation for Development and Relief, and served as its chairperson from 1985 to 1990. The Foundation provided scholarships to South African refugees in other African countries to help them obtain skills to sustain themselves while in exile and find meaningful work upon their return to their homeland.

Beginning in 1999, Tutu worked for three years at Fisk University, a traditionally black school in Nashville, Tennessee, where she served as program coordinator for the school’s Race Relations Institute, addressing issues of racism in the global community. She next was associate director of the Office of International Programs at Tennessee State University, also located in Nashville. The Program focused on the university’s international efforts, including recruiting faculty with international expertise, developing collaborative projects with scholars in other countries, facilitating opportunities for students to study abroad, and promoting foreign language study.

Naomi also has served as a consultant to two organizations that reflect the breadth of her involvement in issues of human rights. The organizations are the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence, founded by renowned author Riane Eisler and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Betty Williams, and the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Naomi’s public speaking began while she was a student at Berea College; she spoke at churches, community groups and colleges and universities about her experiences growing up in South Africa. By the early 2000s, Tutu was recognized as a leading authority on race relations and gender issues. Her expertise and her famous name created an ever-greater demand for public speaking engagements and she has become a much sought-after speaker at professional conferences, church and civic organizations, and many more events.

She has traveled the globe making presentations at schools, churches, conferences, community centers and other venues on an array of social justice and human rights issues. By 2006, her public appearance schedule had become so active that she gave up her position at Tennessee State in order to concentrate on public speaking full-time. Her speeches typically have inspiring titles, such as “Building a Global Community” and “Striving for Justice: Searching for Common Ground.” With similarities to the Berea College motto, one of her speeches, titled “One Body, One Family, One World” draws on her experience of growing up during apartheid in South Africa where she witnessed first-hand  how the prayers and concrete actions of the worldwide church provided vital encouragement and support to the people of South Africa as they sought to change their country from one built on the separation of people based on race, to one that celebrated the different gifts and cultures that their country has been blessed with. She recalls how churches encouraged political prisoners and their families, and called on government and business leaders to live the Gospel imperative to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

A Lifetime of Service

(Published originally in the Spring 2011 issue of Berea College Magazine.)

by Lindsay Roe, ’14

April 10, 2011, was a special day for a special supporter of Berea. On this day, Earl Hager, ’32, West Virginia native and alumnus of the Berea Foundation School and Academy, celebrated his 102nd birthday. When congratulated for his long, healthy and eventful life, he comments, “I don’t know if I’m your oldest alumnus, but I’m sure enough the oldest person in all the stuff I do around here!” Earl has certainly been involved in a lot of “stuff,” if this is how one should properly categorize his lifetime of service, vigor and generosity.

Earl has worked as a teacher, administrator and served consecutive two-year terms as a lifetime member of the West Virginia Legislature. He played an influential role in passing a bill which increased the salaries of teachers and principals in West Virginia – an alien concept to a world so used to cutting education funding. He credits Berea for the enthusiasm and diligence he puts into his work. “Berea taught me how to get along with people,” he says simply. Berea – with its friendly campus, gifted professors and rigorous labor program – helped him overcome his boyhood shyness and discover a career in politics. Because of Berea’s influence on his life, Earl is a strong supporter of the College. His generosity, as well as his community service, has provided Earl with a century-long success story. Berea could not be more grateful or proud of his achievements.

Green P. Russell and Jessie Reasor Zander

Berea’s long standing commitment to education

As beneficiaries of Berea College’s commitment to interracial education, throughout the decades many Bereans have extended the legacy of education to others. This profile features two such alumni, one from the 1800s and one from the 1900s, who are representative of thousands of other teachers and educators who have carried Berea’s values into the wider world.

Green P. Russell (1861-1936)

Berea graduate Green Pinckey Russell (1861-1936) was born one of six children to free black parents, Green and Frances Russell, December 25, 1861 in Logan County, Kentucky. With the aid of his parents, Russell gained an early education through private tutors in Russellville, Kentucky as there were no schools in rural Logan County for African American students.

He entered Berea College in 1879, receiving high marks from Berea faculty in mathematics, natural sciences and oratory without peer. While a student at Berea from 1880 – 1897, he also taught school in Fayette County during the summers. In 1894, while training to become a lawyer, Russell also became the first African American to take the State Teachers Examination, receiving a 91 grade average. His first teaching job was in Chilesburg, Kentucky, where he very successfully taught and furthered construction of a black public school, followed by his unanimous selection as president of Lexington’s only black elementary school which he later expanded to Lexington’s first black high school.

In 1894, in recognition of his excellence as a teacher, Russell became Supervisor of Lexington’ Colored Schools, and on March 31, 1895, Mayor H. T. Duncan and the Lexington City Council renamed the “Fourth Street Colored School” to “Russell School” in his honor. As a renowned teacher and promoter of black education, Green embraced Booker T. Washington’s educational philosophy of manual and industrial arts for African American students. Russell lectured and advised black school systems in many of America’s leading cities.

After graduation from Berea, Green aided John H. Jackson, an 1874 Berea College graduate, in developing a comprehensive plan for black Kentucky education. On September 30, 1912, the Trustees of Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons named Russell as the fourth president of Kentucky State University. Russell served as president from 1912 to 1923, and again from 1924-1929, making Russell one of four Berea College graduates to serve as president of Kentucky State University.

Following his tenure at Kentucky State University, Russell moved from Frankfort to Waukegon, Illinois, where he once again worked in public schools and participated in local politics until his death in 1936. Russell was recognized (posthumously) by Berea College in 2008 at Founders Day.

Jessie Reasor Zander:

Jessie Reasor Zander has the distinction of being the first African-American graduate of Berea College after Kentucky’s infamous “Day Law” was amended. The “Day Law” had forced segregation on Berea College and all schools in Kentucky from 1904 until it was amended in 1950 and eventually rescinded in the 1954 Supreme Court decision to revoke the “separate but equal” law in the Brown v. Board of Education case. The change in the law paved the way for Berea College to begin admitting African-American students, such as Jessie.

As one of the first in her family to go to college, Zander graduated from Berea in 1954, majoring in Elementary Education. She went on to be a teacher, school administrator, and poet, touching the lives of thousands of students during her career in Kentucky and Arizona, as well as through her world-wide travels to various continents and many nations.

During her distinguished 30 year career with the Tucson Unified School District, she continued her education at the University of Arizona where she earned her M.ED in Elementary Education, M.ED in Guidance and Counseling and later Supervisory and Administration Certification. In addition to classroom teaching, her various roles include serving as a counselor with the Special Education Department and as principal of three schools in the Tucson Unified School District.

While her career has been focused on education, she has held numerous professional memberships and community service and board positions such as Chairperson for St. Mark’s Mission Focus on Race and the Justice Program, Funeral Consumers Alliance of Southern Arizona Speakers Bureau and other organizations. After her husband’s death and her retirement in 1989, she returned to Virginia and Kentucky documenting a traveling exhibit of Black Churches for the African American Cultural Center. She also spent a term in the Berea College Department of Education and she served as Education Consultant for the Carter G. Woodson Institute over three summers.

Her travels have taken her to Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Israel, Ghana, Italy, and South Africa twice to study the Truth and Reconciliation process and again as part of a “blitz” building in a village outside Capetown.

She has distinguished herself as an award-winning poet. Other accolades include the Berea College Service Award (1992), Berea College Alumni Loyalty Award (1991), Carter G. Woodson Award, St. Mark’s 2000 Women on the Move Nomination (1990 & 2001), the Shorter Lifetime Achievement Award, University of Arizona Black Alumni Phenomenal Woman Award (2002) and YWCA 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award.

As a very active alumna of Berea College, she has provided leadership to the Berea chapter in Arizona, and has returned to her alma mater on numerous occasions where she is an honorary member of the Black Music Ensemble.

Read more information at:

LINDA STRONG-LEEK A Steadfast Passion for Teaching


By Erica Cook, ’13

Linda Strong-Leek

Professor Linda Strong-Leek

“The students are the best thing about teaching at Berea College,” says Linda Strong-Leek, Ph.D., Berea College professor and administrator. “I love seeing changes, those light bulb moments when a student gets it.”

Strong-Leek is the program coordinator of African and African American studies at Berea College, a professor of Women’s Studies, English and General Studies, and the chairman of Division VI in Berea’s new academic organization. She has been teaching at the College for nine years and has grown to admire Berea’s unique mission. Berea College stands apart from most colleges in Kentucky and around the world for its many distinctive policies, including its practice of charging no tuition, its mandatory labor program and its historical dedication to both racial equality and Appalachian prosperity. “I see myself in Berea College students,” Strong-Leek explains. “I am a first-generation college student who grew up in poverty. I enjoy teaching at Berea because the students here do not have strong sense of privilege.”

Strong-Leek’s journey to Berea was rather unorthodox. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at North Carolina Central University and earned her Ph.D. at Michigan State University. She first heard about Berea while studying in Zimbabwe as a Fulbright Scholar. There, she met Berea College professor and current Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, Dr. Peggy Rivage-Seul. Strong-Leek and Rivage-Seul, both Fulbright scholars, had children around the same age. They became close friends and stayed in touch over the years. Rivage-Seul had advised Strong-Leek to apply as a faculty member at Berea College and a few years later, Strong-Leek did. After her interview on campus, she returned home where a message was waiting, offering her a faculty position at Berea College.

Strong-Leek has a steadfast passion for teaching subjects that greatly inspire her, such as studies in “Women of Diaspora,” “African and African Americans” and “Caribbean Women.” She is currently writing a book on Caribbean women writers and their representations of an ancient African river spirit found in cultures throughout the Caribbean.

Professor Strong-Leek relates to women who have experienced adversity in their lives and are able to overcome incessant struggles to prove their strength and determination. “I grew up in a family of really strong women. My aunt, who raised me, was really adamant about self-sufficiency. She made me think about what it meant to be a woman.”

When asked where she finds her inspiration to teach she said, “My senior high school teacher, Mrs. Hunley, was amazing. She made us learn. I can still remember lines from the great books.” Then, smiling, Strong-Leek recited lines from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. “During the conversations, Mrs. Hunley made the characters come alive and the topics current, and that is what I try to do when I teach literature not just thinking about it as it happened years ago but what it means in our current context. A really great teacher inspires you.”



W. C. Kilby ’13

Keven McQueen, ’89, has found a way to make crime pay. During the day, he appears to be a perfectly respectable instructor at Eastern Kentucky University, where he has been teaching composition and literature since 1989. However, his free time is spent associating with blood-thirsty murderers, rambunctious thieves and the occasional lynch mob.

He meets them all at the library. Keven has made a name for himself by publishing collections of historical nonfiction such as Murder in Old Kentucky and The Kentucky Book of the Dead, which concerns ghosts, giant skeletons, premature burial, monsters and other things that history tells us just shouldn’t be. He finds these tales while poring over Louisville Courier-Journal stories from the late nineteenth century preserved on microfilm at the library.

Keven arrived at Berea with his dark sense of humor already formed, and praises the English faculty for allowing him to be himself while nurturing a solid foundation upon which to grow. “My professors at Berea vastly improved my style while simultaneously encouraging me to keep my own voice,” he says, joking that he might be writing children’s books if he had gone to another school.

While he graduated with degrees in English from Berea and Eastern Kentucky University, it was Keven’s time as a tour guide at White Hall, the historic home of Berea’s co-founder and emancipationist Cassius Clay, that inspired his first book, the biography Cassius M. Clay: Freedom’s Champion. It was perhaps a natural progression from writing a book about Clay, one of Kentucky’s more notable eccentrics, to documenting bizarrely colorful characters in the books Offbeat Kentuckians and More Offbeat Kentuckians. He calls the Bluegrass State’s rich history of eccentricity and violence “a bottomless gold mine.”

He has given talks at the Kentucky Historical Society and appeared at the Kentucky Book Fair and the Southern Kentucky Bookfest. During Homecoming 2011, he signed books at the Berea College Store, where they have an entire shelf dedicated to Keven with titles such as The Axman Came From Hell and Other Southern True Crime Stories, his latest book.

While his true crime books like Cruelly Murdered might seem to make light of a dark subject, much hard work goes into writing them. Keven estimates that it takes two to three years in research and writing to produce each book, which are also family productions. His identical twin brother, Kyle McQueen, ’89, provides the illustrations.

Keven also wants the reader to be educated. “We learn about the present and the future from the past,” he says. “If my books are ever collected into one volume, perhaps it should be titled Things Not To Do.”

The real mystery might be how Keven has combined his love of writing with his politically incorrect passion for history. “Something deep in my psyche seems to respond to the less noble aspects of history,” he says. “Fortunately for me, many other people seem to feel the same way.”

Keven McQueen, '89, books line the shelves at the Berea College Store

Keven McQueen, ’89, books line the shelves at the Berea College Store

The Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson Graduated from Berea College

During Black History Month, Berea College proudly recognizes notable alumni who have contributed significantly to Black History and each week features remarkable Bereans. Most notable is the “Father of Black History,” Carter G. Woodson, who enrolled at Berea College in 1897 and graduated in 1903.

Woodson was born to formerly enslaved African-Americans. He was determined to get an education and through self-instruction learned the fundamentals of common school subjects until he was 17 years old. At the age of 20, Woodson simultaneously worked as a West Virginia coal miner and as a student, earning his high school diploma in less than two years.

Little attention has been given to Woodson’s Appalachian roots or the influence of the values he developed at Berea College played on his cultural advancement. Equipped with his degree from Berea, Woodson continued his education, first at the University of Chicago where, in addition to a second bachelor’s degree, he earned a Master’s degree in European History, then at the Sorbonne in Paris and finally at Harvard University where he earned a Ph.D. in history.

Woodson worked for the U.S. Government as an education superintendent in the Philippines and traveled elsewhere before returning to the United States. He committed himself to the field of African-American history and diligently worked to make sure that the subject was studied by scholars and taught in schools. He formalized that by establishing Negro History Week in February 1926 to promote the study of African-American history. The program was later expanded and renamed Black History Month. (Woodson selected February for the initial weeklong observance to honor the birth months of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.)

As an historian of African-American culture, a prolific author of dozens of books and articles, a journalist and the founder of the Journal of Negro History and of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Woodson deservedly became widely recognized as the “Father of Black History.”

The Carter G. Woodson Center at Berea College was founded in 2011 as a part of the “continuing mission to promote the transformative power of education and social inclusion,” and to honor the memory of a remarkable alumnus who “quite literally changed the face of American history.”

(For more information about Carter G. Woodson, visit:



Emily Applegate, ’14

Amanda Lucas, ’09, the new Global Studies Coordinator at Piney Woods School in Mississippi, is sharing the gift of international education with her students. During their spring break, she and her class will spend one week in China, taking part in various service projects, including teaching English to students in the capital city of Beijing. While staying with a local host family, they will visit the Great Wall of China and the “Forbidden City.” Lucas and her students will then travel to the growing cities of Shanghai and Xi’an, immersing themselves in the country’s unique culture. They will try their hands at the Chinese martial art of Taijiquan, attend a Kung Fu Show and view a “Tang Dynasty Show” that will open their eyes to traditional dances, art and music. “What better way to introduce students to global power than to visit one of the world’s fastest growing economies?” she asks.

Amanda’s inspiration for the trip stems from the appreciation for international travel and service learning she gained as a student. “When I was a student at Piney Woods, I visited South Africa. At Berea College, I learned to be a servant leader,” she says. “The personal growth that results from such activities is invaluable.” She wants to share the same types of experiences with her students to prepare them for life after graduation.

Amanda credits Berea College for enhancing her commitment to service and believes that it sets an example “for the world to follow.”

“Everywhere I go, I brag about Berea because I know it helped prepare me for a more global world,” she says. Amanda’s professors and labor supervisors taught lifelong lessons that helped her grow into the woman she is today. She praises Dr. Jose P. Bey, Dr. Tashia Bradley, and Professor Andrew Baskin for “raising my consciousness, teaching me the value of knowledge and always learning no matter how much I teach others.”

Amanda is honored to be able to give back to the schools that helped her become the success she is today. “Piney Woods gave me the confidence and discipline I needed to become a graduate of Berea,” she says. “Without Piney Woods I do not know where I would be.”

Piney Woods, one of only four historically African-American co-educational boarding schools in the United States, is ranked among the top 10 boarding schools in the country. Its mission is comparable to that of Berea, centering on academic excellence in a Christian community with an emphasis on a strong work ethic, responsible citizenship and community service.

Amanda says she feels blessed to do what she loves in a place that she loves. She officially became Global Studies Coordinator in August 2011, after receiving her master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University. She relishes the opportunity to plan international trips, programs and curricula in the mornings while teaching Global Studies classes in the afternoon.

Amanda is eagerly looking forward to traveling to China this spring break with her class. “I know this will be the trip of a lifetime and my students will return more knowledgeable, more open-minded and more prepared for a brighter future,” she says.

Portrait of Amanda Lucas, '09, with her students at Piney Woods School

Portrait of Amanda Lucas, ’09, with her students at Piney Woods School

INSPIRED BY BEREA: An Honorary Trustee’s Passion for Higher Education


Lindsay Roe, ’14

Elissa May Plattner is a teacher by profession, but a learner by nature. At an early age, she began learning about higher education, growing to appreciate the value of academics. As a result, Elissa May has dedicated her life to inspiring students. She first discovered her love of learning in Berea, when she was 10 years old.

That day, she was treated by a family member to lunch at Boone Tavern on Berea College’s campus. One can imagine the conversations that must have taken place in the shade of the hotel’s iconic front porch: talk of President Frost’s commission of the building, of student workers forging bricks, and disadvantaged communities. That day, she discovered that “Berea is a place of magic.”

In Plattner’s own words, “the world has turned over many times” since her first visit to Berea. Since then, she received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and graduate degrees from Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati. She taught at a K-12 school in Franklin County, Kentucky, and she currently teaches English at the Clermont campus of the University of Cincinnati.

In 1995, she established the Denny C. Plattner Writing Awards at Berea College. Assisted by Sidney Farr a friend and former editor of the Appalachian Heritage literary quarterly, Plattner and her husband, Kenneth, decided to launch the awards in honor of their late son, Denny. Denny adored writers and language, just as his mother appreciates the power and beauty of words.

“One of the most important things you can do,” she says, “is believe in intellectual strengths and abilities and talents.” Just as Berea believes in the potential of disenfranchised youth, Plattner believes in the talent of undiscovered writers.

Plattner watched her writing award inspire young authors to continue their craft. She continued to support Berea, praising strong leadership within the administration and faculty.

In 1994, Plattner began serving on the Berea College Board of Trustees. She comments that, during her participation on the Board, the leadership within the administration and faculty has been the driving force of the College’s success, and that President and Mrs. Shinn have been distinguished leaders throughout the past 18 years. In June of 2011, for her dedication to Berea’s mission of affordable education, she was named an Honorary Trustee. Eagerly, she accepted.

Her smile is audible as she talks about her new duties to the College. The job she is most excited about is that of a student recruiting officer. She searches for young minds that can benefit from Berea’s mission, just as its mission has fueled her passion for education since she was ten years old.

When asked why she is so passionate about a school that she did not attend, after some reflection, she says, “A college education is about living a bigger, stronger life and then giving all of that back to others. Berea is making our young people stronger in this way. It’s a place where great thinking is honored, where big ideas are futuristic, and where every student knows their ability to make a difference in the world. It is giving Kentucky a great future.”

Remembering the Educators


Robert Moore, ’13

The life of a Lincoln Institute founder, Kirke Smith, Berea College class of 1894, was dedicated to upholding the ideals expressed in Berea’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth (Acts 17:26).” On the ninety-ninth anniversary of the founding of the Lincoln Institute, President Larry Shinn presented the John G. Fee Award to five of Smith’s grandchildren at the twelfth annual Berea College Founders’ Day Convocation at Phelps Stokes Chapel. The award was accepted on their behalf by Kentucky State University sociology professor Alvin M. Seals, one of Smith’s grandsons.

Born in 1865 in Christiansburg, Virginia, Kirke Smith earned his master’s degree from the University of Michigan after graduating from Berea. He began his career as an educator with the Lebanon, Kentucky, school system, going on to become Superintendent of the Lebanon Colored Schools and then Superintendent of Principals, a post he held for 15 years.

After the Day Law of 1904 which ended interracial education in Kentucky for the next 50 years the Berea board of trustees employed Smith and James Bond, class of 1892 and grandfather of civil rights activist Julian Bond, to raise funds for a new school for black students. As a result of their efforts, the Lincoln Institute opened in 1912, in Simpsonville, Kentucky, to provide segregated education for African Americans. Smith served as Dean of the Normal Department and Dean of Men.

The John G. Fee Award honors African American alumni who attended Berea College between 1866 to 1904 for their distinguished service in communities and especially for contributions in the field of education. The event, which featured choral performances by the Black Music Ensemble, was not the only celebration of Smith’s memory. The Berea College Archives presented an exhibit honoring Smith and his wife Sallie Johnson, also an 1894 Berea graduate. The exhibit included attendance cards and student records, an 1894 Commencement Program, and a 1909 copy of The Lincoln Institute Worker discussing Smith’s role in founding the Lincoln Institute.

Alvin Seals, a former visiting professor at Berea, is currently writing a book about Smith and the Lincoln Institute. He told the audience that the Institute was unique for black schools in offering a classical curriculum in addition to an industrial education. However, the Institute struggled financially, and in 1933, Lincoln was converted to a trade school. The academic staff was fired, including Smith, who had been with the school for over 20 years. The Lincoln Institute closed in 1966, and the campus is now the home to the Whitney Young, Jr. Job Corps Center, a Department of Labor facility that provides students with workplace skills at no cost.

Kirke Smith died in 1935. “We think he died of a broken heart,” Seals said. However, Smith’s legacy as an educator continues. A member of his family has been teaching in Kentucky schools from 1890 to the present. “This award helps to heal the pain that he experienced in spirit,” said Seals as he looked out at the sea of young faces, many of them training to become the next generation of educators. “His spirit now is revived again.”

President Larry Shinn and members of Kirke Smith's family pose for a photo on the steps of Union Church during the 2011 Founder's Day

President Larry Shinn and members of Kirke Smith’s family pose for a photo on the steps of Union Church during the 2011 Founder’s Day

The Berea College Story Told on NPR

Published originally in the Winter/Spring 2012 issue of Berea College Magazine

By Annie Hammell, ’15

It travels: by spoken word, in photographs, through video, by you and me. A story travels. In today’s high-tech world, many stories travel through the Internet. It was through Facebook that Noah Adams of National Public Radio (NPR) found the Berea College story. His request for stories about people experiencing hardship during difficult economic times for the network’s Hard Times segment was discovered by students on campus. Because Berea’s student body is composed entirely of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, Berea students know well the challenges Americans face in this Great Recession. Traveling from his home in Ohio, Noah arrived on campus and found the Berea College story.

The Berea College story is about doing the best you can with what you have. In spite of economic hardship, Berea students have positive attitudes. Students agree, “It’s more like, ‘Hey, we may not have much, but we make it work.’” One of Berea’s goals is to help students “make it work.” Charla Hamilton, ’15, of Pikeville, Kentucky, told Noah, “My dad is disabled. He doesn’t work. My mother, who has a teaching degree, was unable to find a job, and then my parents divorced. I was living with my mother. We had no income coming in at all. Zero.” Yet, Charla says that she would have attended college regardless of her circumstances.

The Berea College story is about thinking outside the box. Appalachian studies major Sam Gleaves, ’14, was also featured in the NPR story relating how he wants to return to his hometown of Wytheville, Virginia, and teach music after college. “I want the youth coming up through my high school and living in the community I grew up in to have an expanded idea of what it means to be young and Appalachian, in particular gay and lesbian youth and youth of color,” Sam told Noah. “I want the youth to feel welcome to embrace their heritage in the fullest way, where they’re not only living as who they are, but they’re speaking as who they are.”

The Berea story is one of broad horizons. Tony Choi, ’12, originally from South Korea, came to Berea and hopes after graduating to call attention to the plight of immigrants. “Especially in these hard times, I feel that people are placing blame on people who look a little different from everyone else. I’ve lived in this country for more than half my life, and I’m still undocumented,” Choi is quoted. “I feel that Berea has empowered me to go back to my own community, which is the immigrant community, and try to find ways I can fit into a helpful role.”

Fifth grade teacher Dana Mohn from Compton, California, was inspired after hearing about Berea. She explained that each classroom at her school chooses a college to learn more about and “adopt.” Dana was struggling to pick a college until she heard the Berea story on the radio. “I think my students and Berea are made for each other,” she says. “Most of them think that Compton is everything, it’s life, but I want them to step outside this small circle.”

Initially, Ms. Mohn was attracted to Berea because of this. “I teach in an urban environment and I think that Berea can help broaden my students’ horizons,” says Mohn. As a result of “adopting” Berea, the fifth graders will learn about a small college in a small town that educates students representing every ethnic group, from around the U.S. and over 50 foreign countries. Not only does Berea provide courses to help teach and encourage understanding of human differences, it also offers the financial and administrative support that students need to study abroad and experience the diversity of the world firsthand.

The Berea story is one of values. Berea strives to teach students enduring lessons about the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality, and peace with justice. Kurstin Jones, ’12, told Noah in her interview, “I’m a person of color. We have been poor ever since we got here. Involuntarily.” Berea teaches students how to overcome. Berea’s environment frees students to be active learners, workers and servers as members of the academic community and as citizens of the world. The realization that everything happens for a reason can be empowering. Good things almost always come out of bad situations.

Everyone has struggles, but that doesn’t mean the challenges are defining. What defines us is how we deal with the hard times. “I was asked to be an interviewee [for the NPR segment],” Charla says, “but I hesitated at first because I didn’t feel like my story was as important as someone else’s.” At Berea, however, each person’s story is important and each person’s story is different. Because of this, Charla decided to be part of the story.

The Berea College story demonstrates that hope is borne through Hard Times.

Bereans Observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The frigid morning temperatures did not deter Berea College students, faculty and members of the wider Berea community from the annual commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Braving the cold air, the crowd marched from Union Church to Presser Hall on Chestnut Street.

MLK Day March in Berea KY

There, in Gray Auditorium, Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye, a virtuoso singer, actress and performing artist, presented the Fannie Lou Hamer Story: A One-Woman Play featuring songs and stories portraying the life-struggles and accomplishments of Mississippi-born Hamer. Known for her oft-quoted remark, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Hamer was a force in the civil rights movement, particularly encouraging African-Americans to register to vote.

MLK Day Speaker

Lateefah Simon speaks on Martin Luther King Day in Berea, KY

At 3:00 p.m., students gathered in Phelps Stokes Chapel for a convocation featuring Lateefah Simon, whose topic was “Changing the Future.” Following her remarks, which focused on themes of hope to those struggling to overcome poverty and discrimination, Simon met students and faculty at a Speaker Reception at the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education, located in the Alumni Building.

The day’s events were presented by the Woodson Center and co-sponsored with the following Berea College and community organizations: Office of the President, Black Cultural Center, Berea College Music Program, Berea College Theatre Program, Information Systems and Services, Union Church, Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service and the Willis D. Weatherford, Jr., Campus Christian Center.

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Arbor Day Volunteers Replace Damaged Trees

Student workers

Student workers Patricia Stephens, ’11 and Mason Roberts, ’11, assist groundskeeper Joe Wilkie, ’90, in planting trees on Arbor Day. Cameron Gaunt, ’11, and groundskeeper Jeffrey Linville, look on.

The grounds crew of Berea College’s facilities management hosted an Arbor Day tree planting on April 9. With the help of volunteers, 20 new oaks, maples and other flowering trees were planted on campus to replace those trees that were destroyed during two summer droughts and this winter’s ice storm. “The last couple of years have been tough on some of the larger trees on campus,” said grounds coordinator Matthew Partain. “The grounds team feels that it is important not only to renew a Berea College tradition of Arbor Day recognition and tree planting, but to give the students, faculty and staff a chance to participate and learn in the process.”

Appalachian Heritage Event Honors Poet Jim Wayne Miller

Jim WayneIn June, Jim Wayne Miller, ’58, was honored by Appalachian Heritage, the literary quarterly sponsored through the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center. Miller, a pioneer in Appalachian literature and studies, was former Kentucky poet laureate and the featured author of the Summer 2009 issue of Appalachian Heritage.

He was honored posthumously during the campus author celebration, a quarterly event that annually coincides with the College’s summer alumni reunion. For this celebration, the panelists were Miller’s wife, Mary Ellen Miller, ’57, who directs women’s studies and is professor of English at Western Kentucky University; their son, Frederic S. Miller of Louisville, the featured artist for the summer issue; Loyal Jones, ’54, director emeritus of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center; and Morris A. Grubbs of the University of Kentucky, a prominent editor who is working with Mary Ellen Miller on a Jim Wayne Miller reader.

Special Wish Leads to Special Concert

The bells of Berea College’s carillon rang out with familiar tunes as Marlene Payne, an alumna and former faculty member who taught at the College during the past four decades, presented a special concert to eager listeners. Payne, who graduated from the College in 1961, learned to play the carillon about 10 years ago after taking lessons from John Courter, an internationally known carillonneur and former music professor at Berea College. After Courter’s death in 2010, Payne performed concerts on campus regularly and coordinated visits to Berea by other carillonneurs from all around the U.S. and other nations.


Marlene Payne '61

Marlene Payne ’61, faculty member at Berea College for four decades, carillonneur for 10 years

Although Payne was the star performer, her special concert was a well-orchestrated community effort by volunteers including an EMS medical team, music faculty, communications staff, public safety officers from the College and personnel from the hospice who are providing care for her. After months of being back and forth in the hospital, Payne’s condition is currently on a more stable plateau, so the volunteers made the arrangements to grant her wish to play the carillon again.

Marlene Payne '61

Marlene Payne ’61 finds an old but faithful seat.

Surrounded by a host of family, friends and former colleagues and students, as well as the EMS team who carried her in a special chair up the long flight of steps in the tower of Draper Hall, Payne was seated at the carillon keyboard. Her concert featured familiar hymns, such as Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling, Let There Be Peace on Earth and Amazing Grace, as well as a special song originally composed by her daughter Deborah Payne and scored for the carillon by the late John Courter. The concert produced lots of smiles and laughter, as well as many memories for the intimate audience in the tower. A wider audience gathered on the Berea College Quadrangle below as the notes pealed out across the crisp January air.

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Dreama Gentry is GEARed UP


By Rachel Tsvetanov

Since its founding in 1855, Berea College has been dedicated to Appalachia, not only educating students from the region but also providing outreach services. This commitment has always extended beyond the borders of campus, and with four new grants from the U.S. Department of Education, the College will make a significantly larger impact on education in the neighboring region. In fact, the educational systems in some 17 southeastern Kentucky counties will receive comprehensive educational support for children, teens and parents through programs administered by the College. Together these grants, totaling over $100 million, will impact the lives of more than 20,000 people.

Dreama Gentry, ’89, executive director of the Office of Externally Sponsored Programs and a native of Lincoln County, has spearheaded the grant process and will lead a team of approximately 130 educational support staff. Awarded in the fall of 2011, these large and highly selective grants are with the following federal programs: Promise Neighborhood, GEAR UP (two grants) and Investing in Innovation (i3).

The two Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grants will leverage $75 million in federal monies over seven years to provide services to nearby schools and communities. GEAR UP Appalachia! focuses on Estill, Garrard, Laurel, Lee, Madison, Powell, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties. GEAR UP Promise Neighborhood is based in Hazard, through a partnership with Hazard Community & Technical College, and serves Bell, Breathitt, Clay, Jackson, Knott, Knox, Leslie, Owsley and Perry counties. Both grants place academic specialists within schools and work to improve college readiness through tutoring, campus visits, career exploration and financial planning assistance for parents. Complementing that endeavor is the Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, a partnership between Berea College, the Kentucky Science and Technology Council and three Kentucky counties. The grant will offer intensive Advanced Placement (AP) training for teachers and support classes for students. National research consistently shows that students who take AP classes, regardless of their test scores, enter college better prepared academically than those who do not.

Berea College was one of five organizations awarded the fourth grant, Promise Neighborhood, out of 200 applicants from 45 states, as well as from American Samoa and Puerto Rico. Berea is the only grantee that will serve a rural area. Modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City, Promise Neighborhood is a new initiative of the U.S. Department of Education that provides a broad spectrum of services in communities where poverty rates exceed the national average. The focus is on cradle-to-career support of youth and their families. The work in three neighboring counties, Clay, Jackson and Owsley, will reinforce the educational pipeline with intensive services from birth to age 24. Programs will include summer camps, health and wellness education, domestic violence prevention and community arts. Funds will be used for neighborhood health care services, safety and security organizations, tutoring and teaching programs, expanded Internet access, artistic and recreational venues and incentives for family involvement in student progress.

Berea’s President Larry Shinn reiterated the College’s commitment, saying, “We take the responsibility of service to communities beyond Berea very seriously and feel an even greater responsibility to serve well the Promise Neighborhood communities.” Promise Neighborhood, as implied by its name, is a formal recognition of the deep roots that connect Berea College and Appalachian Kentucky as a rural “neighborhood.” The plan for services in Promise Neighborhood draws on the history of Berea College community education programs to map a plan for 21st century involvement and resource development in the shifting Kentucky neighborhood of southern and eastern Appalachia.

Dreama’s commitment to educational programs for Appalachia is the result of her own educational journey. As a first-generation college graduate, she understands the leap of faith that it takes for a student to go from a household with no background in higher education to a world of new and often competing ideas.

She still remembers going with her mother to meet Virgil Burnside, ’74, who was at the time an admissions counselor at Berea College. After one campus visit, she knew “this was the place for me.” While in college, Dreama worked summers as a tutor and counselor for Berea’s Upward Bound program. That experience unveiled “the huge impact that a college access program can have on high school students. These programs give hope and skills to students who do not realize that they have the potential to succeed,” says Dreama. Inspired by her experiences working in rural Appalachia, her hope is that one day “all youth will have the opportunity to attend college.”

Dreama and her team of educators, counselors, researchers and service coordinators developed these new grants around the College’s vision, a vision of educational success and achievement for Appalachian youth intertwined with the values of the College itself.

When asked about the awarded grants, Dreama emphasized the year-long planning process that involved gathering community feedback, formalizing school system partnerships and studying local and national research as well as best practices. “The reviewers were looking for a strong plan of action that will lead to measurable outcomes,” Dreama says. “Berea College has the experience to do the work and include evidence-based programs in our plan.”


Dreama Gentry, '89, reviews the Promise Neighborhood material submitted to the U.S. Department of Education

Dreama Gentry, ’89, reviews the Promise Neighborhood material submitted to the U.S. Department of Education

Support from both the College and individual Berea students in addition to alumni and community members is integral to the success of these grants. Research and best-practice models show that providing a caring individual to work with a young person increases the likelihood that a student will graduate from high school and attend college. Mentors help students dream about their futures and create a plan to translate those dreams into action. Specifically, the program aims to offer each student in a GEAR UP school a mentoring session at least twice a month by the eighth grade. The options for mentors range from one-on-one to group sessions and include both peers and community members. Volunteers within the region can meet with students face-to-face and virtual mentoring is available for Berea alumni living outside the program region who would like to participate.

Along with Berea College, a range of community partners is integrally tied to the work of the Externally Sponsored Programs office. Schools, community organizations and local businesses have assisted in the planning and committed non-federal matching dollars to the projects. A key partner, Save the Children, pledged $1 million per year to support the programs and will provide out-of-school and early childhood programming in the Promise Neighborhood. “Long-lasting change for kids living in poverty is only possible if we consider the communities in which they live,” says Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs for Save the Children. “A brighter future for Kentucky means ensuring a brighter future for Kentucky’s kids. We’re thrilled to partner in this Promise Neighborhood with Berea College and other community based organizations to make change for Kentucky’s kids.” Other individuals and groups are being identified regularly to work with the program and provide additional services.

Community collaboration is strengthened by Berea College’s strong reputation of successful and meaningful initiatives with government organizations over the last 50 years. The current list of major federal, state,and community-funded  partnerships now includes Educational Talent Search (ETS), Upward Bound, Woodson Upward Bound Math Science Institute, Women’s Education Equity Act, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Strategic Enhancement to Mentoring (OJJDP), Kentucky College Coaches, Promise Neighborhood, Promise Neighborhood GEAR UP, GEAR UP Appalachia!, Investing in Innovation (i3), Rural School and Community Trust and the Office of Violence Against Women: Services, Training, Education and Policies to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking in Secondary Schools Grant Program (STEP).

The central mission of all these programs is to provide college readiness services to Appalachian students and communities. Dreama considers herself a part of that rich history and is currently assembling her team of 130 staff who share a vision of a thriving Appalachian college bound culture.

While most universities with similar programs and offices are larger, research based universities, Berea College is well positioned to do the work of these grants. “We have the infrastructure, research and vision to serve as careful stewards of federal money,” Dreama says.

Together, Dreama and her team are shaping both local and national visions of education and child services. Recently Dreama was appointed to the College for Every Student (CFES) National Board. She volunteers as the national coordinator of Project Meet Me Halfway, founded by country musician and songwriter Jimmy Wayne, an organization that focuses on bringing awareness to the issues faced by youth in foster care.

As her staff often says, “Dreama is the visionary. She sees farther and wider than most of us.” Perhaps that is because her vision is so intertwined with both her past and future. She is the mother of two sons, Malcolm, age 12, and Christopher, age 7. They attend schools served by Berea College’s GEAR UP programs. At a recent meeting with her new team, Dreama drew on her experience as a mother and a community member to turn the programmatic to the personal. She says, “I want all children to have the kind of educational experiences and the life experiences that I am able to provide for my own children. With the resources these grants provide, our children and our communities will have better tools to decide what they want to do with their own futures.”

Bereans prepare for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Observance

As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day approaches, members of the Berea community are joining with Berea College in preparing activities for this annual observance on Monday, January 18. The crowd will begin assembling at 10:00 a.m. at Union Church for the traditional march, which will start at 10:30 a.m., proceeding to Presser Hall on Chestnut Street.

At 11:00 a.m., a performance of the Fannie Lou Hamer Story: A One-Woman Play will be presented by Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye in Gray Auditorium. Ms. Aimbaye is a virtuoso singer, actress and performing artist who brings to the stage the life-struggles and accomplishments of Mississippi-born Fannie Lou Hamer. Known for her oft-quoted remark, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Hamer was a force in the civil rights movement, particularly encouraging African-Americans to register to vote.

A convocation featuring Lateefah Simon speaking about “Changing the Future” will begin at 3:00 p.m. in Phelps Stokes Chapel. Simon is noted for presenting messages of hope to those struggling to overcome poverty and discrimination. After the convocation, a Speaker Reception will be held at the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education, located in the Alumni Building.

The day’s events are presented by the Woodson Center and co-sponsored with the following Berea College and community organizations: Office of the President, Black Cultural Center, Berea College Music Program, Berea College Theatre Program, Information Systems and Services, Union Church, Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service and the Willis D. Weatherford, Jr., Campus Christian Center.

Steele to Serve as New Dean

(Published originally in the Spring 2011 issue of Berea College Magazine.)

by Deb McIntyre, ’11

On June 15, Dr. Scott Steele, an economics professor, will begin serving as Berea’s first Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning. Steele has been at the College since 2002 and has served on the Strategic Planning Council and on the Committee on General Education. This new position includes responsibilities currently filled by Dr. Steve Gowler, director of general education and the coordinator of advising, and Dr. Mike Panciera, coordinator of academic advising. Both Gowler and Panciera will return to full-time teaching in their respective areas, general education and agriculture/natural resources, on June 30.

Alumna to Vie for Miss America Crown

(Published originally in the Summer 2010 issue of Berea College Magazine.)

Theater major Djuan Trent ’09, was crowned Miss Kentucky 2010 on July 18. She will represent Kentucky at the Miss America pageant in January. One of her duties will be to serve as the spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s “Kentucky Proud” program. At the pageant, Djuan earned a preliminary talent award after singing “Up to the Mountain,” won a preliminary swimsuit competition and was recognized for community service.

The Columbus, Georgia, native’s platform issue was, “Homeless Prevention: A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out,” which she said was inspired by years of feeding the homeless at her grandmother’s church. Over spring break of her sophomore year at Berea, Djuan helped with the cleanup in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She also worked as a residents’ assistant at the Estill Street complex and was crowned Queen at the 2006 Black Student Union Pageant. Djuan hopes to obtain a master’s degree in business and work in the entertainment industry.