MU celebrates Women of Color Day

The Huntington population was brought together to celebrate and learn about women of color throughout history and our own community in a luncheon on Tuesday said program manager of Multicultural Affairs. 

“This year celebrates 100 years of women’s suffrage and 31 years of a women’s month program at Marshall,” said program manager Lisa Allen. 

The Women of Color luncheon provides an annual opportunity to honor women of color within the community and recognize them with awards, Allen said. 

Three awards are given out to students and faculty for their outstanding commitment to the community and the commitment to the values of a woman of color, said Leah Tolliver, director of Wellness Center. 

Student Michelle Carter, Dr. Darshana Shah and community member MaRia Hill were all honored for their achievements. 

Carter was nominated by her professor Laura Diener, who said she nominated 

Carter because of her exceptional contribution to the class and her fellow peers. 

Shah nominated by her medical student Mercy Babatope, who said she honored Shah because of her mentorship of medical students and excellence as a teacher and guide. 

MaRia Hill, director of the A.D. Lewis Center, said that is was through the love of her community members that allowed her to love and give back to the children of the community. 

A second part of the luncheon was a panel discussion with four Marshall faculty and community members about voting, its history and the leaders of the movement.

Montserrat Miller, director of Drinko Academy, said that hurdles to voting may no longer take the form of literacy tests, but the community needs to look towards the leaders of the past and their values to impact the issues facing voters today. 

“Knowledgeable, innovative and persistent,” said League of Women Voters vice president Wendy Thomas, “those were the values of leaders within the suffrage movement and are the same values that need to be emulated.” 

Though not all of the women’s movement should be emulated because of its tendency to whitewash and not represent the contributions of women of color in the movement, said Jennifer Hill, director of Our Future West Virginia. 

“We learn from the mistake from that movement in that we will not suppress, suppression now there’s a lot to do with gender equity, there still so much to do with…  equity and now we are excluding based on gender identity and sexuality,” Hill said.

With that same vein of constructing a movement, Sandra Clements, co-director of the Fairfield Community Development Coalition, said it is time for a change.

“We’re either givers or takers, and for so long in this community we have been takers and it’s now time for us to step forward,” Clements said. 

Ralph May can be contacted at [email protected]