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Joseph Bell, Ayoka Gay, Randolph Bazemore and Wilson Lacy

Shaw Board of Trustees Reflect on Black History Month and the University

As February comes to a close, members of the Shaw University Board of Trustees took time to reflect on Black History Month and what the university means to them. Below, Chairman Joseph Bell, and Trustees Wilson A. Lacy, Ayoka Gay, and Randolph Bazemore, tell us their thoughts.

What does Shaw University mean to you?

  • “Shaw means the world to me. I would not be the person I am had I not been taught, mentored, and exposed to the many enriching experiences Shaw afforded me. I learned the value of work, the importance of service, and my obligation to make the world a better place for generations to come.” - Bell
  • “Shaw University, to me, is a wonderful and historical institution of higher learning that continues to give young men and women, as well as some men and women who are not so young, a wonderful opportunity to get a solid education and earn a degree that will definitely lead to a better life for them and their families. That's what Shaw University means to me.” - Bazemore
  • “Shaw University is, and will always be, home for me. I am proud to be part of a legacy that was at the forefront of educating black minds in this country. I am thankful that a place like Shaw University exists where I could be immersed in an environment where I saw my own face reflected to me every day. My intellect was challenged and nurtured and gave me a safe space to realize myself for myself. Shaw gifted me with not only an education, but also a family that I will have for a lifetime.” - Gay

What does Black History Month mean to you?

  • “There are many who say that there is no longer a need for Black History Month. However, I disagree. Black History Month is an opportunity to point to the many accomplishments made by Black American citizens. This opportunity is especially important for Black American children who have not been taught about their history as a people. When one does not know his or her history, one may not place as much value on its people. Black History Month reminds us to share with the hope that this information be valued and transmitted through the ages.” - Bell
  • “Black History Month serves as an annual reminder of the numerous and great contributions that Black people have made to this nation and to this world. It helps all of us to appreciate and honor those numerous individuals, some well-known and others not well-known, who made tremendous sacrifices to give of themselves, their talent, their treasure, and even their very lives to ensure a brighter future for future generations.” - Bazemore
  • “I view Black History Month 2018 a time of resurrection. Sacrifices made by both Blacks and Whites have culminated in unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. February is a month that I hope inspires all to analyze life and realize that barriers to where we are and where we want to go are a matter of individual motivation and will-power.” - Lacy

How do you think Shaw has impacted the black communities in North Carolina and beyond over the last 152 years?

  • “When one considers the history of Shaw University, one is reminded of how much an education was valued by newly freed Black Americans… Shaw University has always provided access to those who wished to be educated and continues to do so. By educating our citizenry, we enrich lives in the entire black community and beyond and provide opportunity for Black Americans and others.” - Bell
  • “Shaw has impacted the black communities of North Carolina and beyond over the last 152 years by serving as an enduring and consistent beacon of hope for a sound education and a brighter future for all students who are able and willing to take advantage of the golden opportunities they have found and will continue to find at Shaw University.” - Bazemore
  • “Shaw University has been the birthplace of activists and pivotal movements like SNCC, was at the forefront of educating women, created a space that educated black doctors, lawyers, ministers, educators, and presidents, and founders that birthed other black institutions. Shaw has continuously been a catalyst for change and progression in the black community and been an example for the country at large.  Shaw University is the example of what can be achieved when black people are simply given the opportunity to succeed, and it has provided that opportunity to many.

    “There is nowhere on the globe that you won't find a Shaw Bear. For all that our alumni have achieved, each accomplishment attests to what a Shaw University education can do, not only in that individual's life, but also in the lives of each and every person he or she touches. For that to have emerged from teaching former slaves how to read the Bible, for me, it's just magic.” - Gay
  • “Shaw has historically provided educational opportunities to diverse individuals and minority students who otherwise might not be able to attend college… Not only does Shaw University equip its graduates to become leaders and successful in chosen disciplines – but matriculation at Shaw - enhances the spiritual, ethical and social mores of graduates. As a result, graduates have reached unprecedented heights in leadership and career excellence as productive, viable and contributing citizens.” - Lacy

What is your hope for the future of Shaw University?

  • “I hope that Shaw University continues to thrive. Shaw has always provided access and must continue to do so. I want the University to find a way to reduce the cost of an education, thus allowing access and opportunity to additional students. I want Shaw to be open to reinventing itself by responding to the economics of the times and the changing needs and faces of students.” - Bell
  • My hope for the future is that all who love Shaw will continue to seek unity in our efforts to make Shaw University the very best that it can be.  God has blessed Shaw to continue with its great mission for more than 152 years.  I do not believe He has brought us this far to leave us.” - Bazemore
  • “I hope that Shaw will obtain the resources to fully realize its mission. I see Shaw re-emerging at the forefront of higher education, social and civic engagement, and ushering in a new era of innovation for the next generation and those to come.” - Gay

2017- 2018 Shaw University Board of Trustees

  • Nilous Avery, II
  • Randolph Bazemore
  • Joseph N. Bell Jr., Chair
  • Tim Catlett
  • Thomas F. Darden
  • George C. Debnam
  • Carolyn Ennis 
  • Willie E. Gary
  • Ayoka Gay, NAA President           
  • Haywood Gray
  • Dallas Joseph
  • Linda Inman
  • Wilson Lacy
  • H. Donell Lewis, Secretary
  • John H. Lucas
  • Elizabeth Marrow
  • Ol’Bunmi Peters
  • Nikita Pitre, SGA President
  • Bobby Sanders, Faculty Senate President
  • Jermaine Simmons            
  • Mack Sowell
  • James Thornton 
  • David Walker
  • Ida S. Wiggins
  • Lorenzo Williams, Vice Chair
  • Sean Woodroffe