Hardin-Simmons Celebrates Diversity
(ABILENE, Texas)–When James B. Simmons contributed to the founding of Hardin-Simmons University, it was his belief that education should be available to all students no matter their race, gender, or social class. Simmons was a Baptist preacher who advocated for abolition before the Civil War and helped found seven colleges for freed slaves after the war because he knew the importance of education as a free citizen.
As stated on the university’s website, “Our students have big dreams, and HSU exists to instill the knowledge and nurture the confidence to identify and fulfill those dreams. We do that by embracing every student as a member of our family. You will matter at HSU, and you will matter to us when you go into the world.”
Diversity on Campus
Known for his boycotts against unjust laws against African Americans, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for civil rights until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Since 1986, Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been a national holiday celebrated every third Monday in January.
With Martin Luther King Jr. Day soon approaching, students from the Black Student Union, Proven, and the Latin Student Union, Sangre, share their thoughts on the upcoming holiday as well as how Hardin-Simmons has created a safe space to celebrate diversity.
“For me, Martin Luther King Day means two things; recognition and appreciation,” said Leandria Thurman, member of Proven. “MLK Day shows that the country I live in, America, shows well-deserved recognition to a powerful African American figure who fought for the civil rights black people enjoy today. I appreciate Dr. King, and the people who stood behind him because they helped give me the voice I have today.”
According to Proven’s President, Juwan Crawford, the organization was created with the intention of “reshaping the definition of diversity at HSU.” Crawford stated there was a lack of black representation on campus before Proven and felt it was necessary to create a Black Student Union for students of color to have a sense of community as well as a support system.
Sangre was created in the fall semester of 2018 with the mission statement, “One blood united by faith and culture to educate and inspire change.” The club celebrates diversity in various forms during every event, such as music, meals, and discussions.
“Sangre is here to fulfill our mission statement to all of our students, faculty, administration, and community as a whole,” said Sangre’s President, Juan Sanchez. “Our membership is here for our Hispanic family to find a home away from home as we know it can be difficult to find a community on campus right away.”
“Sangre is almost like home to me,” said Sangre’s secretary, Maria Spinelli. “I am from Fort Worth, Texas, and most of my friends from back home are mostly Hispanic. Being a part of Sangre has definitely brought back that feeling, especially with the officers that are currently a part of Sangre. In the very beginning of the 2018 school year, I had a hard time finding people I could relate to on a personal level. The moment I found out about Sangre, I knew I had to join. The sense of feeling homesick was instantly gone.”
Crawford and Sanchez said the faculty, staff, and professors at Hardin-Simmons have been very supportive by helping with coordinating events, donating, and spreading the word about the club and its upcoming event. As both clubs continue to grow, the overall goal is to be inclusive while creating unity across campus.