Women’s Tea recognizes and celebrates women of Vol State

Volunteer State Community College hosted its annual Women’s Tea last Wednesday, to celebrate Women’s History Month.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Sybril Bennett, an Emmy Award winning journalist.

After a welcome by Davis Carr, Psychology club president, Dr. Carole Bucy, professor of History, introduced Bennett.

“She has a book out about the underground railroad that is really about networking. Its about how people can take the example about this folks who worked the Underground Railroad to get you from point A, to point B, to point C, safely and freely and how you can apply those principles today. . . . She has worked for CBS news, she has worked for Channel 5 News here in town, and she is a journalism professor at Belmont,” said Bucy.

Bennett spoke about networking in the world today and how it relates to the Underground Railroad.

“If you think about innovation and the Underground Railroad, my premise is, the Underground Railroad is among the most innovative, effective and disruptive networks in U.S. History. The Internet will be too,” said Bennett.

“I use seven ideas as a framework, the seven elements of innovation; problem, principle, purpose, pioneering, perspective, passion and play. Problems, if you think about then and you think about now, the problems are the same. Freedom, boundaries, ownership, privacy, access, “ said Bennett.

Bennett talked about enslaved Africans of the past and what they fought for.

“The enslaved Africans, and I use that term deliberately because they were enslaved, they were forced into slavery. Some now choose to be slaves in denial, doubt, [and] disbelief. There’s choices that are made, but in this case, these were enslaved Africans. These were people who were forced into slavery. These were people who fought for their privacy. They wanted the right to eat alone, bathe alone, have intimate relationships alone. . . . Enslaved Africans valued their personhood, they valued their freedom. So much so, they partnered with an amazing network to get to that freedom,” said Bennett.

“I heard [Bennett] speak two years ago and met her for the first time, at the Nashville Davidson County African-American history conference, which is sponsored every year by the Metro Historical commission and she was such a dynamic speaker that I knew she would do well here at Vol State because her motivational message of ‘you can be anything you want to be’ I think really needs to be heard by our community college students,” said Bucy.

After Bennett spoke, lunch was served and awards were presented to four women who were nominated as outstanding women on campus. These four women were Kathy Sowell, director of the office of disability services and ADA coordinator; Melva Black, instructor of communication; Shellie Michael, associate professor of
Communication and English; and Brenda Buffington, director of adult learners and evening services.

Connie Martin, instructor in psychology and education, attended the event and said she enjoyed it.

“It was very active and very interesting. I liked how [Bennett] took the Underground Railroad and made it applicable to everyone in the audience . . . everyone from the youngest person in the audience to the oldest person in the audience. I got ways out of it that I could look and change maybe some of the ways that I’m doing, for example she said ‘stop looking at the problem to find the solutions,’ I’m going to share that with my students,” said Martin.

By Brittney Mace// Assistant Editor