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Meredith College Selected for Multi-Year Project of the Council of Independent Colleges

By Melyssa Allen

Meredith College Selected for Multi-Year Project of the Council of Independent Colleges

By Melyssa Allen

M eredith College is one of seven colleges and universities from across the country selected to serve as regional hubs for a multiyear project of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).

The new partnership is part of CIC’s “Legacies of American Slavery: Reckoning with the Past,” an initiative designed to explore the continuing impact of slavery on American life and culture. The CIC initiative is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered in cooperation with the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University.

Each partner school will focus on a specific theme that has both local and national significance, organizing regional activities while contributing to a national conversation about race, equity, freedom, political power, and cultural resilience.

“Being selected as a regional hub gives Meredith the opportunity to extend our efforts to celebrate the political courage and achievements of women of color through an expansion of the Women’s Oral History Project,” said Dean of Arts and Humanities Sarah Roth. “We are also excited to work with our community partners to support BIPOC women in becoming influential political agents for a more just and equitable future.”

Meredith’s project, which will focus on the theme of Contested Citizenship, will be called “Voices of Change”. Partnering with other CIC schools and community organizations, Meredith will emphasize and support the political activity of women of color through an oral history project and a political leadership institute.

Meredith will also hold a regional conference on campus next spring to highlight these projects, bring in community partners, and plan for the next two years of the grant.

Oral History Project

As a way of showcasing BIPOC women who have fought for equity in voting rights or served in political office, faculty and students will create an archive of oral history interviews with politically active women of color from across the state and region.

Professor of History Dan Fountain is directing the Oral History Project. Partner schools for this project are Shaw University, Guilford College, Johnson C. Smith University, and Flagler College (Florida).

During the summer of 2021, student/faculty mentor teams at Meredith and its partner schools will produce oral history interviews, several of which will be featured on the project website, Faculty mentors will also work as a team to create a set of guidelines for other institutions who would like to collect and elevate the stories of women of color in their communities in similar ways. Student researchers from the partner schools will meet throughout the summer to share their experiences and provide feedback that will shape the guidelines being created by the mentor team.

To nominate women of color, including Meredith alumnae, to be interviewed for the oral history project, email

Political Leadership Institute

In collaboration with community partners Advance NC and the North Carolina Black Alliance, Meredith will host an annual political leadership institute for BIPOC women, beginning in June 2021.

The Political Leadership Institute will be organized by Professor of Political Science David McLennan and La’Meshia Whittington, ’16, deputy director of Advance Carolina. The institute will train women of color who are interested in becoming more involved in political action, including seeking positions on appointed boards or running for elected office. Initial sessions will be virtual, with an in-person ceremony planned when the training program ends in October. Twenty participants are projected for the first cohort.

An advisory board has been appointed to create the curriculum for the Political Leadership Institute and to recruit trainers and participants for the program. The board consists of leaders from across the state who have an understanding of policy issues in North Carolina, a commitment to racial justice, and experience working to dismantle the barriers that impede political participation by BIPOC women.

Members of the board and the organizations they represent are
Stacey Carless, NC Counts
Gloria De Los Santos, Action NC
Courtney Crowder, NC Black Alliance
Marcus Bass, Advance Carolina
Sanja Whittington, Democracy Green
Senator Natalie Murdock, NC Senate District 20
Jessica Holmes, former Wake County Commissioner
Cheryl Ellis, Democracy NC
Dawn Blagrove, Emancipate NC
Emelia Cowans-Taylor, Blueprint NC

Other regional hubs for the CIC initiative are Austin College, Centenary College of Louisiana and Huston-Tillotson University in partnership, Dillard University, Lewis University, and Sewanee: The University of the South.

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