College of Education produces documentary about K-State’s black
alumniK-State Communications and Marketing
|A long road -- 50 years of
experience from five African American K-State Alumni (Video: K-State
of Education has produced an insightful new documentary that tells a history of
Kansas State University that has often lived below the surface of campus
"A Long Road: 150 Years of Collective Experience from Five
African-American K-State Alumni" will premiere during Martin Luther King Jr.
Observance Week, beginning Jan. 19, and will be available to faculty across
campus and educators across the state and nation. The film was produced by the
Midwest Equity Assistance Center, or MEAC, and was made possible by the support
of a Faculty Incentive Grant from the Tilford Initiative at Kansas State
Tonnie Martinez, assistant professor of education, and former
College of Education faculty member Albert Bimper developed the project from its
"We both shared many of the same views about supporting and
motivating students, and cross-cultural collaboration always makes projects
better," Martinez said.
Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education,
applauded the efforts that went into creating this film.
and Albert’s vision was set, an extraordinary group of campuswide experts came
together, including Myra Gordon and our videographer Rusty Earl, to capture the
story and tell it with graceful honesty."
The five deeply personal
stories from alumni delve into their childhoods. Then, each person shares
experiences at K-State. The video participants are: Kathleen Greene, director,
Education Support Services; David L. Griffin Sr., assistant dean/director,
College of Education Center for Student and Professional Services; Juanita
McGowan, former director, American Ethnic Studies; Charles I. Rankin, director,
Midwest Equity Assistance Center; and Veryl Switzer, former administrator, Ring
of Honor Athlete and distinguished alumni.
"I believe these stories are
important to tell because they shed light on the richness toward understanding
the depth and breadth of experiences that truly make up the past and present of
the university, the community, and the people at K-State," Bimper said. "I
believe powerful living truths exist around us all of the time and it was
important for us to capture these individuals’ truths."
But how are
stories from the past relevant to today’s students?
stories give us the permission and an opportunity to think about how far we have
or haven’t come, what the experiences are for younger generations and how we are
or aren’t effectively working toward a better tomorrow," Bimper said. "As an
institution, efforts to create a culture that embraces and affirms diversity and
an inclusive environment means that there must be a deep dive taken to
understand how others are experiencing the world. We have to be intentional
about asking vulnerable questions with a genuine interest in trying to enhance
others’ experiences as well as our own."
Enhancing students’ experiences
is exactly what drew Martinez to the field of multicultural education.
"As a white teacher in a highly diverse classroom, I knew that no matter how
much I loved and supported my African-American and Hispanic students they
probably thought, 'That advice is all well and good, but you don’t really know
my journey,'" Martinez said.
This video took a major step for educators
interested in crossing the cultural divide. The video and downloadable lesson
plans are available free at www.meac.org.
"I hope that African-American
students in Kansas and across the country will watch these pioneers and be
inspired," Martinez said. "I don’t think it’s possible to experience the stories
of these trailblazers and not feel a sense of obligation to make sure the path
to success that they paved is still well-traveled."