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March 20, 2003
Community and Campus Day successful in second year
By George Mauzy

"All good things are worth the wait." That phrase is a fitting description of Community and Campus Day, which was conducted in fine fashion on March 15 at Nelson Commons.

A month-long delay caused no setbacks and the event actually benefited from the warm weather, which helped spur attendance and participation.

Short films, musicians, singers and choirs, along with a plethora of table displays featuring artwork, memorabilia, paintings, photos and published materials displaying the history of area people of color delighted patrons.

quoteKilvert, Ohio, native Rhonda Tabler, an exhibitor at the event, says Community and Campus Day allows local residents to share their talents and information with the region.

"There is so much information here - it's amazing," Tabler says. "Everything has doubled or tripled since last year, including the number of entertainers, exhibitors and patrons."

Many Ohio University students, faculty and staff showed up to receive a dose of local culture.

"It's great that this event brings the local black communities to campus," says graduate student Kim King. "As an undergraduate, I knew about many of these places because I sought out the information. It's nice to see that bridges are being built between these local black communities and Ohio University."

Teresa Tabler Raja drove all the way from Canton, Ohio, to experience Community and Campus Day after hearing good things about last year's inaugural event.

"This is the first time I have been back to Ohio University in more than 30 years," Raja says. "It feels great to see relatives that I haven't seen in 20 or 30 years. I could be visiting Athens more often if my daughter decides to enroll here next year."

Marietta historian and author Henry Burke shared his rich family history, also displaying the names of black southeastern Ohio Civil War soldiers.

"My family has lived in Marietta since 1840," Burke says. "My great grandfather, Nimrod Burke, was a first sergeant in the Union Army."

Multicultural Genealogical Center member Glenn Barnett said many African-Americans don't know anything about their genealogy beyond their grandparents. That's why he enjoys helping people research their genealogy using his computer.

"The aspect of education makes this event important to the community," Barnett says. "Education is what Ohio University does and what it should be doing beyond the walls of the classroom. This event also brings recognition to individuals like me who are dedicated to educating people about their family and cultural history."

Harold Thompson, Ohio University's first-ever African-American faculty member in its College of Osteopathic Medicine, feels privileged to have the local people of color share their family history.

"In my 25 years in Athens, I have found these people to be very private," he says. "It has never been easy for them to open up their lives to the community, so I really look forward to seeing this event continue to grow."

Ohio University Provost Stephen Kopp, Multicultural Genealogical Center President Alvin Adams, Athens City Council President Bill Bias and Chesterhill Mayor and Ohio University Professor Richard Wetzel, provided the opening remarks. Ohio University Director of Education Abroad Connie Perdreau, MGC member Mildred Vore and the Ohio University Libraries received certificates of appreciation for their outstanding contributions to Community and Campus Day.

"I'm very satisfied with this year's event," says Chair of Ohio University's Department of African American Studies Vibert Cambridge. "The postponement didn't undermine the festival at all and we are already planning next year's event to be a part of Ohio University's Black Alumni Reunion and the Bicentennial Celebration. What I am most proud of is the fact that this event served the community and that is what Ohio University is all about."

George Mauzy is a media specialist for University Communications and Marketing

 

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