Winter 2018

President's Message

image of Linda Sharpe-Taylor

This year, Case Western Reserve University will celebrate 50 years of the African American Society (Afro Am). Founded by student leaders, including the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the organization was created in 1968 to support the African American community at Case Western Reserve. The demand for a representative organization grew at CWRU, as it did in many other colleges and universities across the country.  

The Higher Education Act of 1965, banning discrimination in education, lead predominantly white colleges and universities to admit more black students. However, the newly arrived students discerned inhospitable social environments on most campuses, and political groups were formed to demand social climate changes. At CWRU, Afro Am organized to demand more representation with the admission of more black students and the hiring of more black faculty, administrators and coaches. Added to that list came appeals for student publications, financial aid, an office of black student affairs and a cultural center. Academically, Afro Am insisted on ethnic studies, a black studies department and resources to help uplift the black community. 

Afro Am has given black undergraduates a sense of community and a place to advocate for their needs. Celebrate the history of Afro Am with us during Homecoming 2018. If you are a former member or participated in leadership, we would love to celebrate your contribution. Let us know where you are and what you are doing by emailing us at    

—Linda Sharpe-Taylor, PhD (WRC '78)

50th Anniversary of Afro Am 

image of African American Society Emblem
University Archives

Calling all past presidents of Afro Am, 1968-2017! The honor of your presence is requested for a historic photograph to be taken during Homecoming, October 11-14, 2018, in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Afro-American Society. The African American Alumni Association is gearing up for an exciting Homecoming weekend. With the assistance of University Archives, we are preparing a display for Kelvin Smith Library showing 50 years of Afro Am. We are seeking definitive proof of the date of the establishment of the Afro-American Society, such as a flyer announcing the organizing meeting or minutes from the first meeting. We also are seeking other Afro-American Society print and/or artifacts from 1968 to present, preferably originals, with people, places and events identified in photographs. We may not be able to use all submitted items, and in most cases items will not be returned. However, once archived, these artifacts will be forever available to everyone. Current students are especially interested in the history of the organization to which so many of us belonged. If you have items to contribute, please contact us at

 MLK Convocation 2018

image of Nikole Hannah-Jones

People in New York Times Magazine staff writer and 2017 MacArthur Fellow Nikole Hannah-Jones will be the 2018 MLK Convocation keynote speaker. Her widely read articles on segregated housing and schools, as well as her deeply personal reports on the black experience in America, expose how racial inequality is maintained through official policy. Hannah-Jones will discuss her work and perspective in a talk, titled The Struggle Continues: The King Legacy and Fight for Justice in Education, at 12:45 p.m. on Friday, January 19, 2018, at the Tinkham Veale University Center on campus. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested online at Tickets will not be issued; seating is first-come, first-served.

Homecoming Highlights- October 6-8,2017

image of a chef from Del's Catering

Served up by Del’s Catering, delicious food whet our appetites for weekend events to follow, as we partied Friday evening with students, staff, and the Latino Alumni Network. Saturday morning’s productive business meeting addressed Strategic Plan updates, including campus culture, student recruitment, student and alumni engagement, and Reach Back Raise Up scholarship funding. The afternoon continued with the spirited African American Society barbecue, the Spartan’s crushing 33-3 victory over Bethany, and the moving portrait unveiling of six CWRU trailblazers. Sunday’s informative Underground Railroad marker dedication, recognizing the role of Western Reserve College in the anti-slavery movement, concluded a diverse weekend and left us eagerly anticipating Homecoming 2018.

Image of Alumni at Homecoming

Ebony Ball

Group Photo at Ebony Ball

The newly renovated Thwing Ballroom was a beautiful venue for the African American Society’s 44th annual Ebony Ball on December 2, 2017. The elegant affair reflected its theme, Celebrating Black Excellence and Forging our Future. The dinner and music provided by African American entrepreneurs - a delicious buffet, live jazz and lively dance music - were greatly appreciated by the CWRU students, community members, alumni, staff and students from Cleveland State and John Carroll universities who filled the room. President Arik Stewart announced the society’s new Michael Chappman Scholarship for outstanding Cleveland Metropolitan School District seniors, named for the superior high-school athlete recently killed in a drive-by shooting.  In his keynote address, writer, activist and founding member of Vibe magazine Kevin Powell counseled the audience to never make peace with mediocrity.

Alumni Spotlight: Debra J Mines (GRS '77, education)

image of Debra J. Mines

Debra J. Mines grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in elementary education with a concentration in reading instruction. Soon after graduation, she married the late Herman C. Mines and enjoyed family life with him and their two children, to whom they read continuously. A life-long learner, Debra went on to earn a Master of Arts Degree in curriculum and instruction with specialization in reading supervision from Case Western Reserve University and completed all but the dissertation for a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Akron. Debra’s 40-year teaching career began in the East Cleveland City Schools and later continued in the Fulton County Schools and the DeKalb County School District in Georgia. She has taught literacy to such diverse populations as kindergarten through ninth graders, gifted students, English language learners and graduate students at Cleveland State University. She presently teaches computer literacy in grades K-5. Debra looks forward to many more years of helping children reach their highest potentials. From time to time, she “rotates her tires” to gain more energy, synergy and excitement. Most recently, she published her first children’s book, Stinky Shoes. To students considering a teaching career, Debra says, “Go for it! The field of education needs intelligent, dedicated and highly motivated individuals who enjoy teaching and learning. I am amazed at how much I continue to learn.” You can suggest someone for an alumni spotlight at

Hurricane Relief Service Project

image of school supplies

The Houston Alumni Chapter has joined our school supplies drive in support of Houston’s hurricane-impacted C.E. King Middle School.

Supplies will be collected through January 2018, and should be dropped off during campus business hours at 23 Yost Hall. For monetary donations, please select the Make a Gift icon and add the designation "donation to be credited to CASE20053 -Staff Outreach - Relief Assistance" under special instructions. Please refer questions to Janice Eatman Williams, 


Upcoming Events 

Greater Cleveland Food Bank Logo

Service Project at the Cleveland Food Bank

Saturday, February 10, 2018, 8 a.m. - Noon

15500 South Waterloo Rd Cleveland, OH 44110

The African American Alumni Association invites you to join us on our first morning of service at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, sorting and re-packing nonperishable food to be distributed to local food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. Closed-toed/closed-heeled shoes are recommended. Pre-registration is required:

1. Visit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank event registration page:
2. Select the "Register" button at the bottom of the page.
3. Follow on-screen instructions to access the CERVIS registration system. If this is your first time using the CERVIS online registration system, you will be prompted to create a volunteer profile.
4. Once you have successfully signed into the system (or created a profile, if needed), you will automatically be registered for this event and receive a confirmation email.
(Event Registration Code: PhMahZ.)                                                            


18th Annual Social Justice Teach-In

Shooting Without Bullets

Tinkham Veale University Center

Saturday, February 10, 2018, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Free for students

$10 for others

The Teach-In, hosted by the InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) and the CWRU Social Justice Institute, is a great opportunity to learn about critical human rights issues and practice hands-on skills to organize for change.

Register here...


Power of Diversity Lecture Series


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

image of Steve Pemberton

Steve Pemberton

Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion for Walgreens Boots Alliance

From Corrective Action to Competitive Advantage: How Diversity is Reshaping Our World


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

image of Mark Joseph

Mark Joseph, PhD

Associate Professor of Community Development, CWRU 
Founding Director, National Institution on Mixed-Income Communities

The Everyday Vigilance Required to Make Real Progress Toward Racial Equity & Inclusion

Both events are free and open to the public. For more information email Janetta Hammock, and register here for a Power of Diversity Lecture

image of text saying, "Pledge Drive to Support Minority Students"


Michael E. Fisher Scholarship Fund

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Award Fund

"Doc" Kelker Scholarship


Fred D. Gray Endowment - Law

Robert L. Haynie, MD, PhD Scholarship - Medicine

Louis Stokes Fellowship Program Fund - MSASS

Virginia Lois Kennedy Scholarship Fund - Dental Medicine

Diane O. McDaniel Endowed Scholarship Fund - Management

Norman E. Wallace Legacy Fund - Management

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