The second day of the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies (MXIBS) 50th anniversary Celebration opened with a panel discussion, 'Reflections of MXIBS Alumni,' where selected alumni spoke to how and why the MXIBS was their home away from home. Here, Willyerd Collier '75 says, 'My thinking was get in, get out, and get on. I wanted to be a lawyer. I began to understand what Wabash did for me when I started to apply for law school. The advice I got proved true.'
Dr. Vincent Henderson '78, said 'Everybody has a dream of what they want to become. It's part of thier DNA. Wabash College opened doors for me. That was invaluable for a kid like me. It's about the dream and the opportunity. If you can put theose two things together, you can do great things.'
Theo Johnson '98 said, 'The MXI was a retention program. The challenge isn't getting guys to attend. It's getting them to attend and return for years two, three, and four, and graduate. The MXI was essential for that.'
John Stansberry '89 said of Horace Turner H’76, the father of the MXIBS, 'HT was very encouraging. He was a believer in my dreams.'
Here the panelists respond to a humorous line from Jeremy Morris '10 (left). Morris said of the MXIBS, 'The Institute was everything. If I wasn't in class or the Allen Center, I was at the MXI. If it wasn't for the ' 'tute' and HT, I wouldn't have made it through Wabash.'
This time it's Kenny Coleman's '22 chance to make the panel laugh. Coleman, currently the MXI's membership committee co-chair, said of the Institute, 'Feeling comfortable when you walk through the door, that's what feels like home. That's the culture that's been created.'
Leo Warbington '22, also a co-chair of the MXI membership committee, said, 'This place wants to help me with life. They want me to grow. The type of people who come to Wabash don't always know what they want to do, but they know they want to grow and be challenged. The MXI has challenged me.'
Dr. William Mays '85 served as a morning panelist, saying, 'We grew up a lot in the four years I was here. We learned to look out for each other, and in the end, I know we had each other's backs.'
Clyde Morgan, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country and Assistant Director of the MXI, moderated the morning panel session.
Insightful questions came from audience members like Keith Lee '83.
Cleo Washington '85 (left) shares a light moment with classmate Houston Mills.
Coleman delivered the introduction of the luncheon keynote speaker, D.J. Singfield '11, which was written by Wes Chamblee '12.
A history major, former football standout, and current educator, Singfield's address both celebrated and challenged the audience.
'As an educator, my definition of success is how many students can I help succeed. It's challenging, but meaningful work. Who are you going to help along the way? I can talk about these things because I've lived it. 'Wabash Always Fights' doesn't mean anything until you have to fight.'
'There is a 12:1 studnet to faculty ratio here,' Singfield said. ' I love Wabash for how intimate the setting is.'
A lunchtime group photo. Back (l to r): Jack Armstead '78, Larry Walker '77, Benjamin Brown '89, and John Stansberry '89. Front: Eugene Anderson '83 and Steven Jones '87, Dean for Professional Development and Director of the MXI.
In an afternoon panel discussion, 'Keys to Graduating in Four,' alumnus Jalen Alston '17 said to the Baxter Hall audience, 'Wabash pushes you to the front. You have to be able to express yourself and make your points. A habit I developed here is that I have to give my input.'
Kevin Griffen '18 told the audience of current students and alumni of the importance of engaging beyond career services, '(Success) doesn't stop after career services. Sometimes you have to make connections with alumni yourself. You have to make the effort. That's your responsibility.'
Kim King '99, Assistant Director of the MXI, mixed personal experience into the thoughtful questions given to panelists.
Matt Kraft '10 told the audience of his struggles to adjust to the academic rigor early in his Wabash experience, saying 'If these esteemed professors can see the potential in me, why can't I see it in myself?'
Immanuel Mitchell-Sodipe '18 listens intently to a question from the audience.
The question and answer session made for engaged listening from Anthony Williams '20.
Luke Fincher ’24 sings solo during the Glee Club and T-Tones Concert.
Kayden Beatty ’25 joined the Glee Club for 'O Freedom' as the reader.
The Malcolm X Institute of Black studies has long been a place where generations of Wabash students could live and grow, and lean on each other as they navigated college and prepared for life’s challenges.
MXIBS alumni from seven decades returned to campus over the weekend to celebrate the Institute’s 50th anniversary, to honor the people who have made the MXI special, and to connect with the latest generation of students who continue to add to the legacy.
“It's important to be back, number one for the current students, but also because the of the legacy of the Malcolm X Institute,” said Eugene Anderson ’83. “It's been so helpful to all of us who've gone to Wabash. By honoring Horace Turner, Rob Johnson, Jasmine Robinson, all of those who paved the way for us, it was very important for me to spend some time with people I have not seen in a long time.”
That spirit of brotherhood was present as Anderson and others in attendance spent the weekend together attending panel discussions, a glee club concert commemoration the 50th anniversary, keynote addresses from alumni, and a banquet to cap the festivities.
The MXIBS was established to provide a home away from home for its members. Both the comments from panelists and questions from audience members agreed that the Institute has had an exceptionally positively impact on its members since its founding in 1970.
“The MXI was a huge part of why I succeeded at Wabash, having those relationships,” said Dale Rader ’94, an orthopedic surgeon in Statesville, North Carolina. “Whether it be the MXI, fraternity, or sports teams, everybody builds a community here. That's what helps you grow and conquer whatever comes your way. That carried throughout my life. It prepared me for life.”
Alumni appreciated the ability to engage with current students and recent graduates to find out what’s similar in the Wabash experience and what has changed.
“I think the Institute is in good hands,” said Keith Lee ’83. “There's an appreciation for the opportunities at the college. I heard a lot in the panel talks and I appreciate the opportunity to be one-on-one with professors. But I had to deal with all of these social and cultural factors that only the MXI was dealing with at the time. There's always been a need. I think people understand that the need is still here.”
Similarly, Anderson recognized the new set of challenges that current students face, but he was keenly aware of the benefits the MXIBS adds to the campus community.
“Certainly, coming out of this pandemic, they've experienced some things that we did not while here,” said the owner of ENA Strategies, a consulting firm in Edgewater, New Jersey. “But you hear from the students that they face the same challenges that we did as students, just in different ways. Their toys are different than our toys were, but at the end of the day, people are people. We have the same emotions, we have the same feelings, we have the same challenges, and we ultimately have the same opportunities.”
Lunchtime keynote speaker D.J. Singfield ’11 used the opportunity to address this group as a chance to pay it forward.
“When you’re encouraging the people who have built you into who you are today, when you’re encouraging people who in my life’s roughest moments have literally been my main sources of strength, to look them in the eyes and talk to them, I’m just very thankful,” said the educator and coach at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis.
But he asked an essential question:
“As an educator, my definition of success is how many students can I help succeed,” he said in the address. “It's challenging, but meaningful work. Who are you going to help along the way? I can talk about these things because I’ve lived it. ‘Wabash Always Fights’ doesn't mean anything until you have to fight.”
What lies ahead is an effort to honor the legacy of Horace C. Turner H’76, the founding director of the MXIBS. At the evening banquet, Robert E. Knowling ’77 paid tribute to Turner and all of the Wabash men who have had a profound impact on his life.
Anderson capped the night by announcing that the alumni gathered for the weekend had made a special commitment to building up the Horace Turner Legacy Fund, which provides for the needs and interests of the MXIBS, including special projects, programming, research, training, immersion learning, and support for individual members.
Joseph C. Mims ’76 generously committed up to $125,000 over a five-year period as a 1:1 match, to challenge alumni and friends of Horace and the MXIBS to give generously to this fund. Anderson announced that as of Saturday night, more than $200,000 had been pledged.
Alumni who would to make a gift or pledge to the effort can contact the Advancement Office at 877-743-4545 to talk with a member of the team.