In celebration and recognition of Black History Month and international cultures, Freed-Hardeman University continues to host several events this month to promote unity, empathy and awareness. International Student Day will be held Thursday, Feb. 23, at 10:30 am in Loyd Auditorium. Students representing 19 countries will enter the auditorium carrying the flags of their homelands. The student body will also listen to the unique national anthems as well as a brief history about the countries. After chapel the students will have several international meals provided in Wallace-Gano Dining Hall.
Professors on Poetry will include poems about Emmett Till Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6:30 pm in the ARC room 150 and will be the last event of the month. Till was the subject earlier this month, as the university offered two screenings of the film “Till.” It is the true story of the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago teen killed in the Mississippi Delta in 1955. His death further ignited the Civil Rights Movement. The film tells the story of Mamie Till-Bradley’s social justice activism following her son’s death. After the screening, FHU held a discussion to challenge the campus community to hold uncomfortable conversations about racism and how all people from different backgrounds can embrace another. “It is not an easy movie to watch,” FHU Director of Social Work Nadine McNeal said. “But it is our hope that from this we challenge ourselves to take action, and it should not stop here in this room.”
FHU freshman Campbell Scott attended the Feb. 3 screening to learn more about Till’s story. He stayed for the follow-up discussion and was surprised that the Emmett Till Antilynching Act was just approved as a federal hate crime in 2022. “I wondered why it took 60 years for it to pass,” Scott said. The hour-long discussion that followed covered several topics including the barriers that prevented the law from passing swiftly, the role of the church in difficult times and the varied levels of willingness to get involved in the Civil Rights movement.
“We have to learn how to unite, really engage and interact with one another, even when we disagree,” McNeal said. TJ Kirk, FHU’s vice president of student services, said during the discussion that it begins with love of one another. “Love is an action; listening is an act of love,” Kirk said. “Getting together is an act of love, to empathize and to consider someone else.”
Holding uncomfortable conversations was also the topic during chapel Feb. 17. FHU Director of the M.S. in Counseling Programs and Graduate Certificates in Counseling James H. Dalton spoke about symbols of hate. He asked the student body, “How can I, as a Christian, hold on to something that causes so many others pain?” During his presentation, Dalton displayed many symbols — from the innocuous restaurant logos to the confederate flag and the swastika. Instead of embracing the symbols of hate, Dalton said students should show empathy, evaluate themselves and encourage those around them. “Evil wins when good people stand by silently. Let’s not be silent but encourage people to make peace and not be divisive.”
Dalton also promoted FHU’s BRIDGES committee and its efforts to foster diversity and inclusion on FHU’s campus. BRIDGES is an acronym for Belonging to the FHU Community, Reinforcing God’s love for all, Integrating an inclusive learning environment, Developing a kingdom culture, Growing together, Embracing diversity and Strengthening our communities.
FHU President David R. Shannon discussed BRIDGES and the combined efforts of the FHU Cultural Diversity Committee and Point Team for the University Strategic Bridge plan 3.1, which seeks to increase the understanding of racial diversity and unity in order to better reflect the kingdom. “We will be a family in pursuit of peace through genuine Godly love and not be afraid of the tension that may be created while doing that,” Shannon said. “We will listen, learn and love.”
The university began Black History Month with chapel speaker Larry Ivery, who gave a presentation about Marshall Keeble and his devotion to the Lord’s church, baptizing more than 40,000.
The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson and Memphis, FHU offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees.