March 15, 2013
In connection with Black History Month, a Knox College student club hosted "fireside chats" that brought together Knox students, faculty, and staff in an informal setting for in-depth discussions.
Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality (ABLE) organized the series of talks, which featured one speaker on each Sunday in February. ABLE President Devin Compton, a junior majoring in anthropology and sociology, said the idea was to encourage students to get to know the speakers and have them available as another resource.
"All in all, it's been very successful," said Compton, who is from Aurora, Illinois.
The featured speakers were Knox College President Teresa Amott and Knox faculty members Jessie Dixon, associate professor of modern languages (Spanish); Wendel Hunigan, lecturer in anthropology and sociology; and Karin Wimbley, visiting assistant professor of Black studies. (Photo at top: Teresa Amott at ABLE Fireside Chat. Photo at right: Jessie Dixon. Photo below left: Karin Wimbley.)
The discussions were wide-ranging. Amott, for example, talked about living all over the world while growing up with her mother and her father, a United States Foreign Service officer. Dixon, a Knox College graduate, talked about her experiences as a student who studied abroad and then, later, as a faculty member who sometimes works abroad while directing one of Knox's international programs.
Knox first-year student Tamyra Love said that hearing from Dixon "plants the seed for me to visit other countries and learn about other cultures."
Love attended three of the four "fireside chats," saying she feels they were beneficial.
"I got to know the professors and the president," said Love, who is from Northlake, Illinois, and plans to major in political science. "(As a result,) you have a support system besides your advisor and the professors you've taken classes with. It's helpful to see faces of color who are in those positions of authority."
Dushawn Darling, a Knox sophomore from Chicago, Illinois, said the chats provided a good opportunity for students to interact with Amott and faculty members.
"We see them on a regular basis, and we don't necessarily take the time to get to know them, to talk to them, to see what they're doing," said Darling, an anthropology and sociology major who wants to become a professor of dance. Students attending the chats could "sit down with them one-on-one and ask them questions."
The fireside chats were "definitely a way for students to connect with the faculty and to get their point of view across," he added.
ABLE also coordinated other Black History Month events on the Knox campus, including a student talent showcase featuring music, poetry, dance and displays of visual art, and a food drive for the Safe Harbor Family Crisis Center in Galesburg.