The ceremony culminated a year of celebratory activities and programming for CBS. Founders in attendance included Wittenberg Board of Directors member Ron Woods, class of 1969 and the first president of CBS, Muriel Mitchell Scruggs, class of 1969, Gregory Pratt, class of 1970, and Mary Dillard Daniels, Darryl Herring, Charleyse Smith Pratt and Selena Neal Singletary, all class of 1971. In addition, Wendy Miller Woods, class of 1971, was represented by her husband, and Jim Thrasher, class of 1971, was represented by his niece Maria Thrasher-Tolber, class of 1993.
As a group, the organization's founding members received the inaugural CBS alumni awards. Among the other influential individuals in attendance were Margaret Coleman, CBS' first counselor and mother of one of the founders, son William Hardin, class of 1971, and Mabel Jackson, professor emerita of English and CBS' first adviser.
Formed at the end of the tumultuous Civil Rights era of the 1960s in an effort to gain a voice on campus, CBS has evolved into an organization that doesn't just embrace African Americans but all Wittenberg students through a variety of events and activities. In recent years, CBS has partnered with such student organizations as the Gay Straight Alliance, the American International Association, the W.A.G.E. Womyn's Center and Student Senate to provide campus programming opportunities.
CBS now operates out of the refurbished William A. McClain Black Culture House, named for the groundbreaking Cincinnati-based attorney and member of Wittenberg's class of 1934. Still one of the most respected attorneys in the nation, McClain has received numerous honors during his illustrious career, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which recognizes the achievements of outstanding ethnic Americans and their contributions to America. He has received an alumni citation from Wittenberg and an honorary degree from Michigan, where he attended law school, and he has been inducted into the Hall of Excellence of the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges.
CBS organizes several recognizable events each year, including the Unity March in October, a commemorative walkout in April, a host of Black History Month events in February and the Freedom March and Martin Luther King panel discussion in January. All of this would not have been possible without the foresight of the 25 founding members.
"There are so few times in our life that we get to see living legends," said Director of Multicultural Student Programs and Director of the W.A.G.E. Womyn's Center Forest Wortham. "The founding members are those legends – they left a legacy at Wittenberg that will remain for perpetuity. The actions they took as young people were daring, not just because they challenged the system for something they believe in, but also because they stood up for something in their personal life they believed in.
"In a world of following the crowd today, it is refreshing to see those who paved the way not just for African American students but for all disenfranchised groups on campus."
The founding CBS members included Muriel Mitchell Scruggs, Levi Wingard and Woods, all class of 1969; Jim Bell, Tyrone Curry, Mary Foxworth, Margie Hemphill Peacock, Larry Peacock, Gregory Pratt, Selena Neal Singletary and Sandi Williams, all class of 1970; and Beverly Andrews, Tom Catlett, Mary Dillard Daniels, William Hardin, Darryl Herring, Paul Hicks, Norman King, Leonard Lightfoot, Wendy Miller Woods, Alfonso Pearson, Charleyse Smith Pratt, Victor Sheppard, Mark Thomas and Jim Thrasher, all class of 1971.
Written By: Ryan Maurer
Photos By: Erin Pence
Participants were asked to submit their thoughts and impressions of the event. A sampling of their feedback is included below:
"I thought the experience was wonderful. I enjoyed learning about their struggles and their purpose in creating CBS and I liked knowing how much they appreciated us continuing on their legacy. The brunch was a very humbling experience and I would love it if there was one similar to it every year so that the current CBS students know the importance of the organization to the school and to those that came before us."
Mae Helen Jackson '12
"I really enjoyed the brunch, and I think that it is so important for CBS to understand where they have been in order to realize any type of future for the organization. We all know we are united in one goal, but sometimes 40 years later, there is just not that connection to the past that I feel needs to be there. It almost becomes like a going-through-the motions thing, and we re-enact such things as the walk-out without knowing the truth about it, and the impetus behind it. We need to know the history, and we need to know that we're not just students going to Wittenberg 40 years later in a completely changed world. We're actually part of a legacy, and what we have to do is not rest on our laurels but to continue that legacy and ensure that the efforts of the CBS founders and other people all over the country have some kind of reward. I think only through this acknowledgement of that fact, that we are a legacy, not just reinventing the wheel, so to speak - only through that realization can we ever have a future as an organization. The one thing I took from the brunch is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I don't mean to write a book, or anything, but I can relate to many of the things the founders were talking about. They came on campus with the attitudes, and they were cordial but distant from each other. However, I also feel like because of their efforts, because of their closing gap and gaining a solidarity in pursuit of a common goal, and seeing them laughing and talking and reminiscing as well as sharing their wisdom, it is really a big encouragement to those faithful members of CBS to see."
Rhea Jones-Price '10
I was overjoyed to spend time with those CBS Founding Members who were able to attend the awards luncheon. I hadn't seen some of them for more than 20 years. Each one of them "took me under wing" when I first arrived at Wittenberg in the fall '68; Each one left a lasting favorable impression on me. I was persuaded , as were other freshmen in the class of '72, to participate in the sit-in and in the walk-out. I learned so much from each of them, about relationships, politics, study habits, lifelong pursuit of learning - and how to "pass-on the light to others'.
Peter Davis '72
"Thank you for recognizing the CBS Founders on Saturday. By honoring others, you honor yourselves. You honor your past, present, and future. Continue to explore and partake of all the great programs and activities available to you at Wittenberg. Give forward whenever and wherever you can. You are highly gifted and well-loved."
Muriel Mitchell Scruggs '69
"What stood out me the most about this event was the amount of accomplishment and unity that was present in such a small place. Seeing these people overcome so much adversity and become full people spiritually, emotionally, academically and politically was inspiring. I also realized that they only could have accomplished this together and their recognition of this fact was very appealing. I hope that in future years CBS can achieve this sense of unity, I have no doubt about the success of CBS and those who call themselves members of this organization."
Taylar Pompey '12
"Saturday's gathering gave me the opportunity to hear the first hand experiences of those who fought against and/or persevered through racial discrimination. It made me appreciate my current standing on campus s a mixed race minority who gets along with relative ease among my peers. The Saturday brunch was an invaluable experience for CBS to take part in and must be continued to remind new, old, and future CBS members of the negative climate of the past and how far we have come today."
Elizabeth Morris '12
Additional comments are welcomed. To submit, send an e-mail to Ryan Maurer, director of news services.
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