Published on March 1, 2013 by Sarah Waller  

As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the 150th anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation, Samford University concluded its Black History Month speaker series themed "Lift Every Voice and Sing: Connecting the Past with the Future" with speakers Dr. Elizabeth Sloan-Ragland and Cedric Sparks.

On Feb. 26, Dr. Elizabeth Sloan-Ragland spoke about her experiences as the first African-American woman to live on Samford's campus.

Moving to campus in the fall of 1969, Sloan-Ragland said there were no state troopers or protestors when she arrived.

"I owe a debt to all of those who came before me like the ones who went to [the University of] Alabama. The governor stood in the doors then, yet he opened to the door for me," she said.

"Both black and white, in the end all of us want to achieve, we want to do better, we want to exceed and excel in all things. It does not matter the color of your skin, we all want to make a different, and we all can," Sloan-Ragland said. A 1973 Samford graduate, she is a long-time administrator at Alabama A & M University.

On Feb. 28, Cedric Sparks, executive director of youth services for the Birmingham mayor's office, concluded the series saying black history is not an exclusive history.

"Black history is our history. We have to find it, know it and tell it," he said.

In a narrative of how one can see black history in their everyday lives, Sparks listed a series the products and services everyone uses that were invented by African-Americans.

"You can't leave your house and come to school and not recognize the black history around you," he said.

Sarah Waller is a senior journalism and mass communication major and a news and feature writer in the Office of Marketing and Communication.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.