Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 13, 2010

ABCC celebrates 20th anniversary

Professor of Black Studies Fred Hord has become an irreplaceable part of Knox College’s Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality (ABLE) organization.

Hord’s “labor of love” and brainchild has grown over the years from small numbers to a large group of ever-expanding culture centers. Hord teaches classes, chairs the Black Studies Department and on top of that runs the Association for Black Culture Centers (ABCC), pro bono. This hard work has brought the ABCC great prominence while also making the Black Studies Department at Knox College one of the best in the nation.

The ABCC will be celebrating its 20th national conference this year at the University of Maryland-College Park. During the first weekend in November, professors, students and other scholars from around the nation will fill the Marriot Inn and Conference Center on the University of Maryland campus. This year’s conference will be substantially larger than the first conference.

In 1989, the first conference was hosted at Knox College. Since 1993, the conference has been an annual event for professors and students to connect with other culture centers. The conference involves workshops, speakers, different forums, including athletics, theater and many others.

Outside of the annual conferences, the ABCC brings a connection to other culture centers as well as many different discounts on books. For people looking to get a job with culture centers, the ABCC website also hosts a job bank.

Because Knox is a member of ABCC, a major discount available to Knox is the Kuumba Programming Series. The Kuumba Programming Series is a tool to bring a wide variety of speakers to campus. This discount is anywhere between 20 to 55 percent.

“If you look at the people who have been keynoters at our 19 conferences and the one this year, you are going to find some of the most well known black intellectuals,” Hord said. This year’s 20th conference is no exception; with years of experience and many scholarly works under their belt, the speakers aim to inform as well as challenge the conference-goers.

Over the years, Knox and ABCC have both changed. The ABCC has moved from Hord’s office to a space including multiple offices and a large library of books. With this expansion, new staff members were able to join the ABCC ranks to assist Hord. Junior Rebecca Beno joined staff last year and has found the work quite meaningful. Being able to contact different schools as well as create the newsletter has made her job more exciting than most college jobs.

Sophomore Olivia Williams and juniors Kevin Lillie and Cameron King will be the representatives this year from ABLE.

Despite never having attended a conference, senior Jordan Lanfair has seen many students bring back different resources and knowledge. Lanfair, a two-year president of ABLE, has seen numerous students return from the conference with positive stories.

Lanfair is excited about the information the three students will bring back this year.

“We want to have this conversation, this dialogue, not just between the other culture centers but the campus,” Lanfair said. This conversation will hopefully let ABLE be more aware of the role it plays on the campus.

“Culture centers reclaiming the commitment to prepare black students to excel in an age of uncertainty” is the name and topic of this year’s conference and hopefully King, Williams and Lillie will bring back information to share with ABLE and the campus.

Hord has been very helpful to ABLE. He has helped think about past events that were successful and suggested them to Lanfair. This has helped ABLE reach out to the campus and community. Hord has also helped the Black Studies Department at Knox grow to an impressive size.

“It would be great if more people stopped by to check it out,” Lanfair said.

ABLE already tries to connect with the campus through events—including speakers like Gloria Harper—and help during multicultural student orientation, cook-offs and other events. This winter, ABLE will try to put together a retreat to help students handle the dreary days of winter at Knox. The ABLE Center on Tompkins Street is always to open students needing resources from the extensive library. “For the size of the center and Knox, the library is very large,” Lanfair said. The center also has outreach to the community, including events with the Boys and Girls Club.

Hord’s help with ABLE has brought it from a center of relative neglect to a center of prominence at Knox. He provides knowledge for its members as well as all the books in the library at the center.

John Williams

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