Banquet celebrates black excellence

Annie Fullwood, Staff Writer
April 3, 2015

“All black lives matter because excellence manifests itself within individuals whether or not we agree on it,” said student speaker junior Teresa Bedzigui at the Journeys in Blackness event. “Our journey is far from over.

“Many of us are tired of fighting for our lives, but it is this journey, this process of always becoming, that makes us excellent. We are excellent.”

On March 28, Guilford College faculty, retired professors, students and alumni attended the Journeys into Blackness Banquet to celebrate black excellence.

“This is the third annual banquet,” said Director for Multicultural Education and banquet planner Jada Drew. “The Journeys in Blackness theme has been going on for a few decades here to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month. Now we have the Journeys into Blackness banquet to celebrate not only black excellence, and student and faculty achievement, but also honoring the firsts.”

The event included many speakers, including alumna Minette Coleman ’73, President of Guilford College Jane Fernandes, and Bedzigui as well as a special performance by the Suah African Dance Theatre Company, a dance group located in Greensboro.

In previous years the banquet has honored valued members of the community, such as the first black tenured professors at Guilford and the first Latino and immigrant Student Senate president.

This year, Carolyn Beard Whitlow, a former Guilford College professor, was honored for her excellence during her time at Guilford as well as her creative work.

“We salute one of our finest, Carolyn Beard Whitlow, who retired last year after 21 years of educating and nurturing students,” said Fernandes at the Banquet.

Beard Whitlow is a poet whose work has been published multiple times. She has received numerous accolades for her writing, as well as her fabric art. Her quilts have been displayed in Washington DC, New York Boston, Seattle, Princeton, Winston Salem, Guilford College and more.

“Her poetry’s been groundbreaking,” said Beard Whitlow’s friend and former colleague Adrienne Israel, vice president for academic affairs and academic dean. “She writes in the jazzy hymn, but it’s more than that. There’s a music and a rhythm in her poetry that is unique. She also does a lot of research on her topics in order tell the story of African Americans as a people.”

Other former colleagues of Carolyn held her creativity in high esteem as well. “Her work outside of Guilford had two forms, the books that she published, but also her work as an expert art quilter,” said a former co-worker of Beard Whitlow’s Jim Hood, a professor of English. “It was fascinating to hear about her process, which was slightly different than her poetry writing, which was often very planned out. She worked in very strict forms, but her quilting was very minutely detailed stitching, and she never really had a plan about where it would go. The form emerged in the process of her stitching.”

Beard Whitlow was deeply touched by her honoring. During her acceptance speech, she said she was proud that her commitment truly did make a difference at Guilford College.

“She has made a statement about what is possible, that a faculty member can be a great teacher, an active member of community,” said Israel. “She’s published, and she’s a very respected advisor. She’s a testament to the rest of us of what we can do.”

“All black lives matter because excellence manifests itself within individuals whether or not we agree on it,” said student speaker junior Teresa Bedzigui at the Journeys in Blackness event. “Our journey is far from over.

“Many of us are tired of fighting for our lives, but it is this journey, this process of always becoming, that makes us excellent. We are excellent.”

On March 28, Guilford College faculty, retired professors, students and alumni attended the Journeys into Blackness Banquet to celebrate black excellence.

“This is the third annual banquet,” said Director for Multicultural Education and banquet planner Jada Drew. “The Journeys in Blackness theme has been going on for a few decades here to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month. Now we have the Journeys into Blackness banquet to celebrate not only black excellence, and student and faculty achievement, but also honoring the firsts.”

The event included many speakers, including alumna Minette Coleman ’73, President of Guilford College Jane Fernandes, and Bedzigui as well as a special performance by the Suah African Dance Theatre Company, a dance group located in Greensboro.

In previous years the banquet has honored valued members of the community, such as the first black tenured professors at Guilford and the first Latino and immigrant Student Senate president.

This year, Carolyn Beard Whitlow, a former Guilford College professor, was honored for her excellence during her time at Guilford as well as her creative work.

“We salute one of our finest, Carolyn Beard Whitlow, who retired last year after 21 years of educating and nurturing students,” said Fernandes at the Banquet.

Beard Whitlow is a poet whose work has been published multiple times. She has received numerous accolades for her writing, as well as her fabric art. Her quilts have been displayed in Washington DC, New York Boston, Seattle, Princeton, Winston Salem, Guilford College and more.

“Her poetry’s been groundbreaking,” said Beard Whitlow’s friend and former colleague Adrienne Israel, vice president for academic affairs and academic dean. “She writes in the jazzy hymn, but it’s more than that. There’s a music and a rhythm in her poetry that is unique. She also does a lot of research on her topics in order tell the story of African Americans as a people.”

Other former colleagues of Carolyn held her creativity in high esteem as well. “Her work outside of Guilford had two forms, the books that she published, but also her work as an expert art quilter,” said a former co-worker of Beard Whitlow’s Jim Hood, a professor of English. “It was fascinating to hear about her process, which was slightly different than her poetry writing, which was often very planned out. She worked in very strict forms, but her quilting was very minutely detailed stitching, and she never really had a plan about where it would go. The form emerged in the process of her stitching.”

Beard Whitlow was deeply touched by her honoring. During her acceptance speech, she said she was proud that her commitment truly did make a difference at Guilford College.

“She has made a statement about what is possible, that a faculty member can be a great teacher, an active member of community,” said Israel. “She’s published, and she’s a very respected advisor. She’s a testament to the rest of us of what we can do.”

“All black lives matter because excellence manifests itself within individuals whether or not we agree on it,” said student speaker junior Teresa Bedzigui at the Journeys in Blackness event. “Our journey is far from over.

“Many of us are tired of fighting for our lives, but it is this journey, this process of always becoming, that makes us excellent. We are excellent.”

On March 28, Guilford College faculty, retired professors, students and alumni attended the Journeys into Blackness Banquet to celebrate black excellence.

“This is the third annual banquet,” said Director for Multicultural Education and banquet planner Jada Drew. “The Journeys in Blackness theme has been going on for a few decades here to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month. Now we have the Journeys into Blackness banquet to celebrate not only black excellence, and student and faculty achievement, but also honoring the firsts.”

The event included many speakers, including alumna Minette Coleman ’73, President of Guilford College Jane Fernandes, and Bedzigui as well as a special performance by the Suah African Dance Theatre Company, a dance group located in Greensboro.

In previous years the banquet has honored valued members of the community, such as the first black tenured professors at Guilford and the first Latino and immigrant Student Senate president.

This year, Carolyn Beard Whitlow, a former Guilford College professor, was honored for her excellence during her time at Guilford as well as her creative work.

“We salute one of our finest, Carolyn Beard Whitlow, who retired last year after 21 years of educating and nurturing students,” said Fernandes at the Banquet.

Beard Whitlow is a poet whose work has been published multiple times. She has received numerous accolades for her writing, as well as her fabric art. Her quilts have been displayed in Washington DC, New York Boston, Seattle, Princeton, Winston Salem, Guilford College and more.

“Her poetry’s been groundbreaking,” said Beard Whitlow’s friend and former colleague Adrienne Israel, vice president for academic affairs and academic dean. “She writes in the jazzy hymn, but it’s more than that. There’s a music and a rhythm in her poetry that is unique. She also does a lot of research on her topics in order tell the story of African Americans as a people.”

Other former colleagues of Carolyn held her creativity in high esteem as well. “Her work outside of Guilford had two forms, the books that she published, but also her work as an expert art quilter,” said a former co-worker of Beard Whitlow’s Jim Hood, a professor of English. “It was fascinating to hear about her process, which was slightly different than her poetry writing, which was often very planned out. She worked in very strict forms, but her quilting was very minutely detailed stitching, and she never really had a plan about where it would go. The form emerged in the process of her stitching.”

Beard Whitlow was deeply touched by her honoring. During her acceptance speech, she said she was proud that her commitment truly did make a difference at Guilford College.

“She has made a statement about what is possible, that a faculty member can be a great teacher, an active member of community,” said Israel. “She’s published, and she’s a very respected advisor. She’s a testament to the rest of us of what we can do.”

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