Anita Parran PanelStephens College Trustee Anita Parran ’73 (pictured middle right) joined a panel of local leaders on the Stephens College campus as they addressed “What does Black History Month mean to Columbia and Missouri?” 

The audience included both Stephens students, faculty and staff as well as members of the greater Columbia community.

Parran, who was among the first African-American students to enroll at Stephens, is an executive committee member of the Stephens College Board of Trustees. She also serves as principal for KK Charles Communications LLC, a PR and media relations firm in Kansas City, and is the secretary and past president of the Kansas City Association of Black Journalists. She also serves as vice chair for the Association for Women in Communications.

“I approach Black History Month from a teaching proposition,” Parran said. “We should take every opportunity available to learn from one other.”

Joining Parran on the panel were the following community members:

  • Clyde Ruffin, First Ward Representative on the Columbia City Council; Senior Pastor, Second Baptist Church, Columbia; and Professor and Chair Emeritus, University of Missouri and a John F. Kennedy Center Medallion Honoree
  • Dr. April Langley, Chair, Department of Black Studies, and Associate Professor, English; University of Missouri
  • Nikki McGruder, Executive Director, Inclusive Impact Institute

The panelists, whose perspectives crossed generations, discussed their own experiences growing up, pursuing their education, as well as transitioning to adulthood and careers. Parran shared memories of the small group of Stephens black students creating their “own little family” and gathering almost nightly outside the chapel. 

Other topics included mentoring and how to build and reinforce a culture of empowerment.

“Black history didn’t happen in isolation,” Ruffin said. “We are all in this together.”

Black History Month committee member Ania Martin ’19 served as moderator and also spoke about the importance of Black History Month.

“My history is still a blurred vision for me,” she said. “The fact that I don’t know enough still bothers me. In high school and middle school, we didn’t really talk about these things. I want to know my history.”  

Dr. Langley appealed to the next generation of students in the audience.

“We are all looking to see what you are going to do,” she said and added, “we have to engage each other from a position of love.”

The Black History Month Panel was produced by the Black History Month committee. Members of the committee included Stephens students, faculty and staff: Issa Buck, Phoenix Bussey, Precious Clark, Courtney Elliott, Jessica Gayo, Joyce Gayo, Simone Gregory, Darian Julun, Ania Martin, Alyssa McManus, Monica McMurry, Castor Santee, Mandi Schroff, Alaysia Taylor and Alissa Taylor. The committee produced a wide range of programming and events throughout the month. The panel was held on Feb. 25 as the culminating event.

Tags : Alumnae Achievement, College & Campus

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