Lancaster Campus Receives Mary Burnham Heartline to the Community Award
from Black Interest Group
“You can be successful in life no matter your skin’s color, ” proclaimed J.W. Smith in his opening message during the Lancaster community’s Black Interest Group (B.I.G.) annual banquet, held recently at Ohio University’s Lancaster Campus. During the event, the campus was presented with the group’s Mary Burnham Heartline to the Community Award, recognizing services provided by the campus and its employees in support of B.I.G. and the community.
Campus Dean John Furlow and public relations director Jennifer LaRue accepted the award. In spite of a month’s delay due to snow, a record crowd of well over 100 community leaders, students, faculty and guests gathered to celebrate Black History Month at the event..
Smith’s remarks embodied B.I.G. founder Alice Saunders, who continues to serve the group as president. Saunders noted that the group was formed in 1982 when she and Alice Morrow (then director of the local YWCA) saw a need to assist minorities living and working in Lancaster and Fairfield County. B.I.G. strives to keep the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. alive, that all men of all races will live and work together in peace and harmony.
During his address, Smith, an associate professor of communication studies at Ohio University, author, visiting lecturer and music therapist, challenged his audience with three themes from his book How to Get from the Pit to the Palace, based on Joseph, his favorite character in the Bible.
“ Change what you can, and the rest …let it go,” boomed Smith. “Forsake it to make it. We don’t know how to save or deny ourselves. Think about the big picture.”
“You are blessed to be a blessing,” Smith continued. “People bless you to bless others. How about a ‘just because’ day? There’s something good about being good to others”
Dr. Brian Bridges, OHIO vice provost for diversity, access and equity, commended the community and campus for coming together, for building community and applauded the Black Interest Group.
“Race gives us the foundation for the work we are involved in, and there are larger principles of social justice.” Bridges said. “Continue to do the good work.”
Music during the eveing was provided by the Saunders family; Ellen Ford, folk life musician and adjunct professor; and by Patrick Drumm, associate professor of psychology, and Scott Minar, associate professor of English, who perform together as the group “Stanley.”
The Zone, a food and vending service through Fairfield Developmental Disabilities/Fairfield Industries, catered the buffet dinner.