Former basketball player and founding Member of Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality Dan Taylor, ‘72, participated in the Alumni in Residence Program at Knox College from Sept. 26 to 28. He now works as the Senior Vice President at PNC Bank, after graduating from Knox with a degree in sociology. He gave several talks to students during his stay on campus.
The Knox Student spoke with Taylor to discuss how sociology affected his career after Knox and his role as a founding member of ABLE.
TKS: How has your sociology degree helped you throughout your career?
DT: I’m constantly asked how you parley a sociology degree into finance. When I was at Knox, I decided that, although I was working in a bank, I wasn’t going to just major in Finance or Accounting. I wanted to be a little more well-rounded and I said that any job I would have after Knox, obviously, would be working with people. I think that sociology has really helped me understand people, to really be flexible with people, and to really put myself in their position when they start asking questions. It just makes me a little more of a well-rounded person.
TKS: How did you become involved in the formation of ABLE?
DT: I don’t think it’s totally accurate that I was a co-founder, but I was involved in the very early stages of ABLE. I think that there were people on campus prior to me coming to Knox as a freshman, that had already set the groundwork for ABLE. I want to make it clear that I was not an original founding member. But there were so few black students on campus that we all pretty much stuck together and before we knew it we had organized ABLE and it just took off. I am very surprised that over all these years it has stood the test of time and is still here.
TKS: What was the thought process behind ABLE?
DT: If you go back to 1968, those were very turbulent times for race relations. Somewhat similar, believe it or not, to what we’re experiencing today. And I think that students on a lot of different campuses wanted a voice and wanted to be here, not so much like what it is today. The black students of Knox students, the few of us that there were, felt as though we wanted to have a voice and to be shared.
In 1968, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the elections and things that were going on around the whole world, students were saying, ‘Hey, I want to be sure that my voice is being heard.’ I do remember that the black students wanted a black cultural house and we went to the administration. We also wanted a black professor, because at that time there were no black professors at Knox. As it ended up, through various conversations with the school administration, we did get a black cultural house and we did get two black professors.
TKS: With some of the issues today, and with rising tensions surrounding race relations, what are your opinions on how ABLE will be able to help students? Will the organization be their voice or will it serve other purposes?
DT: I believe that, because ABLE has stood the test of time, I think that it will be stronger than ever. Not only to help black students, but to be able to help all students. I think that the more students in general learn about each other, regardless of the color, I think that it’s going to help everybody. So ABLE is just the conduit to help all students and faculty to learn more about race relations. I strongly believe that ABLE will have a place at Knox forever. It’s been around for over 40 years. I also admire the current students that really want to keep ABLE alive and thriving. I was very impressed with the students and how they wanted to know about the history and make sure they kept things going with ABLE.
TKS: What is your personal definition of ABLE?
DT: ABLE, to me, is an opportunity for black and white students together, to have a better understanding of each other. I believe that the definition of ABLE, Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality, really means that collectively and together can make a difference, and I think it has made a difference over the years. I think that the current students understand the importance of maintaining the history as well as forging ahead for the future.