Black History Luncheon encourages open dialogue

by Cynthia Hernandez// Staff Writer

The Volunteer State Community College Campus invited students, faculty and staff to attend the Black History Luncheon last Wednesday, Feb. 25.

The event took place at 12:30 p.m. in the Mary Cole Nichols Carpeted Dining Room (CDR).

The event featured Dr. Joelle Carter as the keynote speaker and recognized members of the Vol State community for their excellence.

The event began with a speech by Ashlyn Challenger, president of the African American Student Union (AASU).

Carter was introduced by Heather Harper, director of Retention Support.

Dr. Carter was appointed as Western Kentucky University’s first assistant vice-president for Retention Support Services . . . (she) has received several awards and acknowledgements for her contribution to higher education and development fields,” said Harper.

Carter said she encouraged open dialogue as she explained the relevance of celebrating Black History Month at this moment in time.

Carter said the purpose of celebrating black leaders, athletes and actors during this month is because “these people were a lot of the firsts; groundbreakers… how we make meaning of what they did, means for us, is the reflection and conversation,î said Carter.

It does symbolize a history of freedom, equality, and just, is denied. It happened. It happened and guess what? That’s ok. How do we grow? What’s the next step?”

Carter said what it came down to was, “strong lessons of leadership, community and love… that love, that respect, that humility, of just, a person. Good grief.

Who am I to say that you’re not beautiful, and you don’t deserve to be respected, and that I should look at you some kind of way or treat you in some… I mean, it is not my place,” said Carter.

Awards were given to Carter and Vol State’s “homegrown heroes” which included Dr. Carole Bucy, professor of history; Mary Malone, Retention Support Services; and James Story, chair of the department of performing and visual arts.

Bucy was awarded by Jasmine Cook, a Vol State student.

Cook said Bucy has been a professor of history at Vol State for many years.

[Bucy] is a speaker, writer, researcher and philanthropist and has been active in promoting African American heritage throughout the region,î said Cook.

Malone was awarded by Andrea Boddie, director of Student Support Services (SSS).

Boddie said Malone is currently a Trio SSS Counselor, was born and raised in Sumner County and graduated from Union High School, Sumner County’s first African American high school.

Boddie also said Malone has worked in the Sumner County school system as a counselor and a teacher for 31 years and co-authored two books; Generations and African-American Life in Sumner County.

Story, the final recipient, was awarded by Pedro Martinez, Vol State advisor/counselor.

Martinez said that Story is a professor of music and department chair of visual and performing arts, directs the choir at First United Methodist Church, presents at international conferences, and has taught music in the Sumner County school system since 1977.

Martinez also said that Story and has also produced over 100 stage productions throughout his career and was recently nominated for the Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation, of which he received ninth place.

Honestly, I liked the whole thing, especially the speaker. I like when she talked about what we can do to interact with each other throughout the year,î said sophomore Tamara Thrower.

ìMy favorite part was the speaker Öshe really does have a dynamic personality, said Matteen Mansoori, Vol State student.

“Those of us that continue to engage in these conversations will be the individuals that conduct the action to make change. It’s not about the month. It’s about the competencies we possess to make this place better than it was, when we were here,” said Carter.

“Getting to know you” presentations hosted by VISA

by Ann Roberts// Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, at Volunteer State Community College in the Rochelle Center  at 2:30 p.m., Vol State International Students Association (VISA) club hosted an event called ìGetting To Know You.

Margarita Perez Torres, president of VISA, spoke about her native country of Peru; the landscape, cuisine, culture, and agriculture.

Some of our teachers they really enjoyed it. And they didn’t know so many things about our countries like for some about the variety of potatoes in my country,î said Torres.

Amanda De La Paz, vice president of VISA club, talked about Michoacan, Mexico.

She moved to Tennessee from there when she was 11.

Michoacan means place of the fisherman.

It is the same size as Belgium.

Twenty million Monarch Butterflies migrate there from North America every year.

Selena Cortez, secretary of VISA club, was born in Gallatin but talked about Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico.

The most produced product in town is their ceramics.

I thought it was amazing. I liked it when my big sister Selena talked about our dad î  Yesvenia Cortez, Selena Cortez’s eight year old sister who attended.

Oky Arguello, advisor, was born on the plane to Costa Rica.

The money goes toward improving the education of their populace.

Costa Rica is considered one of the most literate countries in the world.

It also has two of the best hospitals in the continent.

Pedro Martinez, advisor and counselor,  is from Puerto Rico.

The American dollar is used there and the country is the size of Connecticut.

I feel happy that everybody enjoyed it,î said Torres.

There were cookies and lemonade provided.

Zohra Sarwari to visit and discuss tolerance and open mindedness

by Lauren Cieler// Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College is hosting Zohra Sarwari on March 4, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. in the Rochelle Center, across from the Learning Commons in the Thigpen Building.

Sarwari is an inspirational Muslim speaker, author and consultant.

She is the author of nine books and has been on ABC News, Fox News and has been interviewed on multiple radio shows.

Sarwari said her personal journey began at age six when she came from Afghanistan to America.

She said her passion is to educate others about diversity using humor and personal experiences that she said leaves audiences transformed.

Tabitha Sherrell, coordinator of Student Activities in the Office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives (SLDI), has seen Sarwari in person.

“I liked her tone; it was not tense. She has a good conversation with the audience using humor with her knowledge,” said Sherrell.

Her speeches promote dialogue and foster tolerance towards people of all races, religions, and backgrounds.

“No, I am not a terrorist.

“My mission is to serve God by teaching others how to live effectively and productively and to benefit the communities with the gifts that they are blessed with,” said Sarwari.

“I would attend her speech to see how her stories would relate to women’s diversity of this time,” said Nathan Smith, a Vol State student.

Chinese New Year celebrated at Volunteer State

by Ann Roberts// Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, the Chinese New Year was celebrated in the Ramer Great Hall of Volunteer State Community College from 1 ñ 2:30 p.m.

Qi Yang, Chinese instructor, led her Chinese class who performed and recited in traditional dresses from China.

They sang songs and recited greetings and poems in Chinese.

ìI think the girls did a wonderful job. Especially what made me impressed was that they could recite and read the Chinese poems, which are usually for educated Chinese careers not for people who can know a few basic things. So thatís something made me feel very much impressed,î said Yiping Cui, official director of the Confucious Institute of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).

Cui sent Yang to Vol State to work for the Chinese language program last year.

ìThis [Chinese New Year event] was coordinated primarily through Qi Yang. . . . She coordinated it through International Education and then we had several classes that came and supported it, said Anne-Marie Ruttenbur, coordinator of International Education.

Vol State’s Chinese language program is in its second year and growing.

Another thing that made me feel so much impressed [with the presentation at Chinese New Year] is their pronunciation.

And usually a lot of non-native Chinese find this very much baffling to pronounce the Chinese because Chinese has different intonation, which is very foreign to people like you. But the girls’ pronunciation [was] so good, I can understand perfectly what they are reading, said Cui.

It’s very inspirational to me to see students at a community college have the opportunity that students at universities have to have the exposure to international activities that I’ve seen happen at other universities and it’s a big thing to have right here in Gallatin. It makes me very proud, said Ruttenbur.

At the Chinese New Year Celebration there was hot tea, dumplings and egg rolls afterward at the reception.

Ruttenbur estimated 70 people in attendance for the event.

ìIt was really nice. It was very creative. It had nice energy and good atmosphere. I loved it. It was my first time experiencing the Chinese New Year,î said Nzingha King, a Vol State freshman.

One Book, One Community discussion began with a film shown in the library

by Cynthia Hernandez// Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College and the Gallatin community have simultaneously read the book “The Other Wes Moore.”

Vol State is partnering with all Sumner County Public libraries and high schools on the “One Book, One Community” project.

The community-wide book read will be accompanied by a special lecture series aimed to reflect and relate about what is relevant in the book and in current society.

The series began Tuesday, Feb. 10, with a feature film that was shown twice in the Thigpen Library.

The documentary “American Promise” observes the lives of two young black men as they grow up in the American school system.

For those that missed the film, the library has added it to their collection.

“We’re hoping for a better turnout at our other events,” said Julie Brown, a Vol State librarian.

Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, director of the office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, was scheduled to lead a discussion on “deadbeat dads” in the Wemyss Auditorium Monday, Feb. 16, but due to the inclement weather which closed the Gallatin campus for three days, the deadbeat dads discussion has yet to be rescheduled.

Vol State will host a panel discussion today at 12:30 p. m. in the Mary Cole Nichols Carpeted Dining Room (CDR) of the Wood Campus Center.

The panel will consist of faculty and campus police and will discuss the tense relationships between the African-American community and the police and possible solutions.

Dr. Michael Torrence, assistant to the vice president of Academic Affairs, will lead a discussion on the ìEffects of Hip-Hop on Society” on Monday, March 2. at 9 a. m. in the Pickel Field House.

Various Sumner County high schools will be on campus for this event.

There will be another lecture focusing on low expectations of young African-American males on Thursday, March 19, at 12:30 p. m. Bill Ligon will lead this discussion in the CDR.

The final discussion will be on the selected book, ìThe Other Wes Moore.î

The community is invited be a part of the discussion to reflect upon the themes and learning points found in the book.

The culminating event will take place from 6 – 8 p. m. on Tuesday, March 24. in the Rochelle Center and Gallery.

The event will include discussion, spoken word artists, music, and student art exhibits said Yarbrough, the project manager.

Apart from these Vol State events, the Sumner County Public Libraries have book clubs that will discuss the book.

Host, Sally Ream, said that Gallatinís book club meets this Wednesday.

The Portland Library is offering a lunch/discussion on March 21.

The Vol State Library has several copies of the book available and offers a two-day rental. The Gallatin and Portland Libraries still have copies of the book available.

Harper Lee’s new book about grown up Scout to come out in July

by Brittney Mace// Assistant Editor

Harper Lee, a world-renowned author, has announced the release of her second novel, and sequel to her first novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

According to Harper Publishing, the novel will be titled “Go Set a Watchman” and will be released in July.

According to Associated Press, the book will be published in its original form and has already hit the top of the best-selling charts, months before its actual publication.

In a statement released by Harper Publishing, Lee describes her novel and choice to publish.

ìIn the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called “Go Set a Watchman.”

“It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort.

“My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel, what became “How to Kill a Mockingbird”, from the point of view of the young Scout.

“I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told.”

“I hadn’t realized it [the original book] had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer, Tonja Carter, discovered it.”

“After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication.”

“I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years,” said Lee.

Carter described the moment she discovered the novel to Washington Post, saying that she found the manuscript stapled to the manuscript of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and immediately rushed over to Lee, who then identified it as the sequel.

Because of Lee;s declining health, and her clear opinions on not publishing another book throughout the years, many have questioned whether or not she was pushed to publish and seemingly taken advantage of.

According to Slate.com, Carter said Lee is “hurt and humiliated” by these claims and that close friends say she is genuinely excited about the publishing process moving forward.

“When I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” as a high school assignment in the early 90s, I remember the teacher making the comment that Lee had only published one book and for years, even at that time, the public and the critics awaited her producing another work,” said Joshua Hite, instructor of English at Volunteer State Community College.

“Saying America has been awaiting this to occur would not be an understatement; however, we must take the entire situation into consideration.”

“The book was reportedly shelved after it was written in the 1950s, prior to “To Kill A Mockingbird” being published.

“This is strange enough, but when mixed with the reports that the manuscript was found by Lee’s lawyer, a recently new council to Lee who had used her own sister’s legal services for years, and secretive meetings occurred between Lee and the lawyer just prior to this announcement, a student of publishing and literary works must think “who has anything to gain from this?” and “why now?”

“While the circumstances are strange around the entire situation, literary scholars will be able to sift through this history once they can not only read the book itself but also view the manuscript.”

“I would not be surprised if the book will be a disappointment.

“I am not sure how it could not be since the news of this upcoming book in early February carried such weight. Finding a manuscript is different than publishing a book.

ìMany manuscripts went unpublished while the author was alive but were published after his/her death, possibly because the permission would not be granted while the writer was alive.

“Why would Lee grant permission now?

“This all seems a bit shady, but this will all be answered in about ten years when literary critics are able to analyze the text and sift through all the evidence surrounding this upcoming book,” said Hite.

“I am really looking forward to reading it. It will be interesting to step into the future of that world and see how the characters turned

Vol State reopens after three day snowbreak

by Ann Roberts// Editor-in-Chief

The Gallatin campus for Volunteer State Community College was reopened after three days of inclement weather which left most Vol Staters snow and icebound.

On Thursday Feb. 19, the campus was reopened at 9:30 a.m. and closed early at 4:30 pm.

That day, Coffee with the Prez took place according to plan at 10 -11 a.m. Students, faculty and staff were able to speak with Dr. Jerry Faulkner, president of Vol State and enjoy free coffee and breakfast biscuits in the Mary Cole Nichols Tiled Dining Room (TDR).

At noon, The French class hosted a Mardi Gras celebration that was originally scheduled for the Tuesday before but because of the snow, it was rescheduled.

The French class handed out pieces of cake to people in the TDR and if anyone had a small figurine of baby Jesus in their piece, they were given a paper crown and had their picture taken.

The figurines, in Mardi Gras tradition are meant to symbolize good luck for the next year.

There were also tables for anyone to create their own mask.

Also during the noon – 1 p.m. hour, there was a Lunch and Learn in the Carpeted Dining Room (CDR).

The lecture was about the history of black theater and was given by Edmon Thomas, associate professor of communication and theater.

On Friday Feb. 20, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) recognized Vol State as a Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) campus.

The event was in Great Hall of the Ramer Administration Building at 10:30 a.m.

Among the attendees, was William Lamberth, Tennessee state representative for Sumner County, and members of the general counsel of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) who presented the plaque to Faulkner.

“It’s really exciting for us to be the first community college in Tennessee to receive this designation and I give all the credit to Ken Hanson and our team here that work with our veterans,” said Faulkner.

“[We are] impressed with Vol State’s programs and services [that] they provide to veterans and itís just very impressive evidence what the designation acknowledges that they really have stepped up to the plate and fulfilled their responsibility to students.

“It’s obviously a team effort  you can see that a lot of work goes into making this a campus where veterans feel comfortable and feel drawn to. We’re impressed and very proud of them,” said Dr. Russ Deaton, interim executive director at THEC.

Professor Thomas lecture at Lunch and Learn for black history month

by Lauren Cieler// Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College is hosting a Lunch and Learn Thursday, Feb. 19.

The event will take place in the Mary Cole Nichols Carpeted Dining Room at 12:30-1:30 p. m.

Edmon Thomas, associate professor of communication and theater, spoke about the arts and history tied it into Black and Women’s History Month.

“Lunch and Learn was to celebrate Black History Month so I decided to talk about black theater.

“It started with the minstrel shows and how the minstrel shows started after the Civil War and continued to be popular entertaiment throughout all of America,” said Thomas.

Students, staff and faculty were invited.

People were encouraged to bring their own lunch. Dessert was provided.

The office of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives (SLDI) staff said this is the second year doing this event and that last year it was called Reflections of Black/Women’s History Month.

It was changed to Lunch & Learn because it was shorter and the name clicked more.

“It is interesting because everyone comes together to take the time to learn about the diversity within Black and Women’s History Month,” said Lori Miller, secretary II of SLDI.

“It is nice that the speaker relates something about black and women’s history,” said Tabitha Sherrell, coordinator of student activities in SLDI.

Local Musician Spotlight: Wesley Winters

by Makenzie Border// Staff Writer

There are a number of students at Volunteer State Community College who have varying types of talents.

One of these students, Wesley Winters, is a musician who has been earning popularity for some time now.

“I decided to do music when I was 15. I played in a couple talent shows, and when the response was positive, it sparked.”

“Music brings joy to people in a most personal way, and that is what I love to do,” said Winters.

“I’ve been doing this part time for about 4 years. I play a new age sort of blues/rock/soul/folk. Quite a big mix.”

“I’m still trying to pinpoint what type of song I like to play best, but as of right now you can hear a lot of sounds from me.î

Regarding his current success, Winters said that it is hard to take off as a college student, but that he is still focusing on his goals.

ìThe biggest thing I’ve done is play a few shows downtown in Nashville,î said Winters.

Winters also gave mention to a few of his professors that have given him support.

ìI wouldnít say I’ve been particularly pushed by any of the professors here at Vol State, but Lynn Peterson, Ben Graves, and Professor James Story, [department chair of visual and rerforming arts], have all brought a lot of encouragement my way,î said Winters.

For those who are hoping to see Winters perform, he has a few shows coming soon this month.

“I’m playing at a place called the Slider House in the Vanderbilt area off and on,” said Winters.

Humanities Matters lectures focus on racism and transcendentalists

by Mackenzie Border// Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College’s Humanities Matters Lecture series for the spring 2015 semester will focus on the current racial tension in the United States and will take place throughout February.

The next lecture, “James Baldwin’s Another Country, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Politics of Love,” will be Today, from 11:10 a.m. – 12:45 p.m., and will be hosted by Laura Black, chair of the English department.

Black was asked how she decided on the topic of her talk, saying, ìI’ve been planning this presentation since last semester, but it is really a smaller piece of a larger work that I’ve been working on for a lot longer.

“I’ve been studying the literature of James Baldwin for a few years now, specifically his civil rights literature.

“This will be my focus for my Ph.D. dissertation that I hope to complete in the next couple of years,” said Black.

“I believe Baldwin is one the most underappreciated American writer and intellectual of the 20th century. James Baldwin was a unique person in civil rights history.

“He was a talented writer, who happened to be black and gay, and whose books and published articles from the early 1960s focus on race and radical integration.

“He was interested in advancing social justice, racial equality, and civil rights for everyone, and these issues are still important today,î said Black.

Grady Eades, associate professor of History, will be holding a discussion with Nancy Blomgren, associate professor of English, called “Not an Aberration:  Race, Slavery, and American Values.”

The event was cancelled due to weather issues, and has not been rescheduled.

“Professor Nancy Blomgren and I have been tinkering with this idea for several months. “

“We began planning it in the fall term and have begun to work out details a few times since the spring term. This was definitely Professor Blomgren’s idea,î said Eades.

“For me, the idea is interesting to explore because it is potentially a little volatile and runs against conventional wisdom. We’re going to be looking at literature that supported slavery and was against equality; not exactly a walk through the tulips.”

“The point though is not to show support for these ideas, but to demonstrate how far back such ideas go and how critical they have been to American history and culture,î said Eades.

“We’ll be discussing the arguments made in favor of slavery in the decades before the American Civil War.”

“Many people who supported slavery felt that Uncle Tom’s Cabin did not give an accurate picture, so there were several novels written to answer Harriet Beecher Stowe’s arguments.”

“These became known as anti-Tom novels, and they provide some surprising insights into explaining how slavery advocates justified the ownership of other human beings.”

“Our title, “Not an Aberration,” reflects the ways slavery and racism were engrained in American ideology, not a departure from it,” said Blomgren.

“[The topic] is clearly relevant. The title of the presentation is “Not an Aberration” because we both felt that we wanted to get across the idea that racial issues in the United States are not new.

“There is a long history of African Americans being seen and treated as inferior by white Americans and we wanted to look at an often forgotten piece of that history.”

“Given the events in Ferguson, New York, and Cleveland – and that’s just the last six months – it is important to show these ideas have roots that go back a long, long time,î said Eades.

“Transcendentalist Communes in Fiction by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott” was the second lecture planned for the series. This event was also cancelled due to weather, and will be rescheduled.

Shellie Michael, professor of English, will be providing the lecture.

“Venerable American writers Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott both lived at communes in the 1840s, a time of radical reform movements much like the 1960s.”

“Since America’s inception, people have formed utopian communities for a variety of purposes. The communes at which Hawthorne and Alcott lived were attempts to apply Transcendentalist philosophies to everyday living.”

“Both writers wrote fiction about their experiences, giving us rare glimpses into life at 19th century American communes,” said Michael.

Michael discussed how she decided what to talk about and what the main point of the talk will be.

“My talk will be about the dissertation I’ve been researching and writing for the past two years. I’m a PhD student in English at MTSU, and I’m at the level called ABD: All But Dissertation.”

“This means I’ve finished all the program requirements, such as coursework and several major exams in my areas of specialization except the book-length research project, called a dissertation.

“People, especially Americans, have always experimented with communal living.”

“in my talk, I’ll discuss the history of utopianism in America as well as communes in Tennessee, some of which still exist today.

“I would also be glad for people to get a new perspective on Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott, seeing them not as stodgy, old-fashioned writers but people who lived in exciting times and had interesting experiences,” said Michael.