Alumni of Color Honor Eric Holder


Over two hundred and fifty Black, Latino and other alumni of Barnard and Columbia gathered in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, July 25, 2015 at a surprise party to honor former Attorney General Eric Holder, ‘73CC, ‘76 Law. The event to thank our friend and role model, and the nation’s first African American Attorney General, was coordinated by a large group of Eric’s classmates led by Steven Noah Sims ‘73CC, ‘75SW and Rachelle Viki Browne, Esq. ‘74 Barnard and drew alumni of several generations from across the country, including California, Oregon, Atlanta and New York.

The two-day gathering held at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel included White House tours for early registrants, the Saturday evening surprise party featuring old school favorites and an active dance floor, and an uplifting worship service Sunday morning led by Dr. Marilyn Sanders Mobley, ’74 Barnard, with a stirring sermon by The Reverend Dr. Lewis M. Anthony, ‘74CC.

Chairpersons Sims and Browne thanked the Dean’s Office of Columbia College for its generous support of the surprise party and acknowledged a number of special guests, including Columbia Trustee and Black Alumni Council Heritage Award recipient A’Lelia Bundles ‘76JRN, Director of Principle Gifts at Columbia James T. McMenamin, Jr., The Dean of Barnard College Avis E. Hinkson ’84 Barnard, Barnard Trustee Frances L. Sadler ‘72 Barnard, and Professor Quandra Prettyman, who has taught English and Africana Studies at Barnard College since 1970. The chairs also thanked Cynthia Wood and Barbara Wood Harrison ‘79TC of the Garland E. Wood Foundation for its support of the upcoming Black and Latino alumni reunion planned for summer 2016. Garland Wood, ‘65CC,‘72BUS, was a founder of the Black Alumni Council and recipient of the BAC Heritage Award.

The 2016 Barnard Columbia Jam, as the previous reunions of Black and Latino alumni from the 60s and 70s were called, will take place August 12, 13 and 14, 2016 on the Barnard and Columbia campuses and invites alumni of all schools and years, with participation from students and faculty. Alumni volunteers are organizing The Jam in partnership with Barnard Alumnae Relations, Columbia Alumni Association, and The Black Alumni Council. Registration, reunion hotel, events, and other information will be available in the coming weeks.

For more information email or contact Bruce King ‘74CC, Frances Sadler ’72 Barnard, Wayne Turner ‘77CC, Kevin Matthews ‘80CC or Zachary Husser ‘73CC.


(Eric Holder with event organizers, including Steve Sims on the left)



(Columbia Alumni on the White House Tour)

Millennials Are Not Post-Racial: An Ivy League Education


“I don’t see race” is the oft-heard refrain of many Millennial men and women. Surveys have shown that people of this generation believe themselves to be more tolerant of racial differences than older Americans. These are young people who see the progress America has made in addressing racial disparities as irreversible. This sense of finality stems from a belief—proliferated in the 1980s and 1990s—that federal, state, and local governments have made a concerted effort , through measures including the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and affirmative action, to eliminate racial injustice in our society. To some, the election of a Black president in 2008 further symbolized a national transcendence of past prejudices. Because of these assumptions, many Millennials have failed to critically analyze the condition of African-Americans, who continue to face discrimination and inequality. This failure, in turn, has led to a dearth of substantive policy solutions to change the structural foundations of a system that has underserved too many for much too long.

As a low-income Black student at Columbia University from the South Side of Chicago, I am well assured that the breadth and depth of my experiences are not immediately relevant when compared to the experiences of my peers from more affluent places. Discussing Greece based off a literary interpretation is daunting when a majority of the class has seen the islands firsthand. However, I am certain that I belong here just as much as the next person. The influx in recent years of low-income students, most of whom happen to be racial minorities, in elite and selective college environments has provided for a mixture of class and race that has never been experienced on so massive a scale. From 2000 to 2011, the National Center for Education Statistics has measured a 12 and 14 percent increase in college enrollment for Black and Hispanic students, respectively. The wealth of difference between these groups has catalyzed the belief, in Millennial circles, that this is a post-racial generation...

Visit The Next New Deal, The Blog of The Roosevelt Institute for the full article.

Riley Jones is a Roosevelt Institute Campus Network member and a rising junior at Columbia University.

4/28 — Networking Event for Male Alumni and Students of Color


The Black Alumni Council is working with staff and students of the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) invite Asian, Black and Latino Male Alumni to participate in a special professional development and networking event with Men of Color Alliance (MCA).

The Men of Color Alliance seeks to provide a safe and supportive space for self-identified Men of Color (Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African, Arab/Middle Eastern, Latino, and/or Native/Indigenous). In an effort to strengthen bonds, they encourage service, foster intercultural unity and promote leadership in the greater Columbia University community.

Date: Tuesday, April 28th
Time: 7pm
Location: Intercultural Resource Center, 552 West 114th Street, New York, NY 10027

RSVP: Alumni interested in attending should email Kevin Matthews ’80CC to confirm your attendance – subject line, Men of Color Alliance Event.


You can learn more about Men of Color Alliance at this link:



Black Columbians Headline Women’s Entrepreneurship Event in Harlem

Let's Do it Panel Trimmed

Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley appear to have trouble finding outstanding women and people of color to embrace in the world of startup and entrepreneurial success. Perhaps that is because they were all in Harlem for Let’s Do it for the Ladies: Women Entrepreneurs of Color, an interactive panel event that featured four dynamic millennial female entrepreneurs.

The sold out event was hosted by Creative Workspace via the Harlem Business Alliance, organized by the think and do tank, Enodi (Entrepreneurs of the Diaspora), and generously sponsored by the construction management and technology company Bunkers Hill Construction.

The evening featured a range of young women of color who have launched enterprises they both own and lead. Each woman shared their personal journeys, tips on how they raised initial capital and offered insight on how they have grown their business ideas.

Lets Do It Robyn Andrea Burgess

“I’m a data nerd,” shared Robyn Andrea Burgess, ’10CC founder of Runaway Apricot when explaining the importance of leveraging data to guide her business approaches. “The first idea does not always happen. Have a testing plan see what’s working and not working. Then be creative and take all of the right elements to create an approach that works,” she advised.

Ms. Burgess founded Runaway Apricot eight years ago as a way to inform and encourage communities to make healthy choices in preparing local, seasonal and healthy foods from scratch.

Lets Do It Yvonne Tinsley

The speakers emphasized that a viable business idea must solve problems and not simply just be new. “Being creative is contributing to a solution,” said Yvonne Tinsley ‘13SSW. “A crooked fork is unique, but it’s not useful. If you’re not contributing something useful you’re just unique, you’re not useful.”

Ms. Tinsley is the co-founder of Oshun, a forthcoming mobile app and web platform that is set to launch in October 2015. The service will link women with premier hair stylists.

Burgess and Tinsley were joined on the panel by Maureen Erokwu, founder of Vosmap, a tech firm that partners with Google to help expand its Street View efforts, and by Malyia McNaughton, owner and designer of Made by Malyia Jewelry, which offers handcrafted delicate jewelry. Made by Malyia has been featured on

The evening also included the New York premiere screening of On the Rise Africa, a business talk show featuring African entrepreneurs created by critically acclaimed filmmaker Femi Agbayewa. The episode showcased African female tech company founders, including Erokwu and Anie Akpe, founder of Innov8tiv.

Lets Do it Khalid David

Lets Do it- Michael Rain

“Harlem has long been a  place for the innovators and Creative Workspace is a platform for entrepreneurs to share ideas, projects and products,” said Khalid David ‘10SEAS, founder of Bunkers Hill Construction and member of Creative Workspace. “At our event, we simply celebrated some of the most dynamic new leaders coming out of New York. Lucky for us, they were all woman of color representing the diaspora.”

“Let’s Do it for the Ladies” was conceived and planned by Mr. David and Michael Rain ‘10GS co-founder of Enodi and communications chief to the startup ZNews Africa. The pair wanted to offer engaging programing to observe Women’s History Month and create a space where current and future entrepreneurs can meet to do more than exchange ideas, but also to plan concrete courses of action to build their ideas up together.

“This is exactly the kind of movement we’re working to make happen,” says Rahim Diallo, co-founder of Enodi. “We’re not trying to do the same old networking party where people exchange cards and nothing happens. We want to bring people together to collaborate and focus on actually getting something done. That’s the only way we will grow successfully as a community.”

How Robert O’Meally brought Romare Bearden back to Harlem

One Greek poet. One African-American artist. One intrepid professor. How Robert O’Meally brought Romare Bearden back to Harlem.


From Columbia Magazine

A Man of Twists and Turns

The gods came down from Olympus in a line, nearly a thousand strong: Athena with an Afro, Poseidon as a dragonfish, Circe and the Cyclopes. Each was a burst of color in the darkness — vibrant blues, greens, yellows, and reds, painted on crackling paper and mounted on a boxy frame, illuminated from the inside. They were carried by students, professors, parents, and children, making a spectacular parade as they marched from Morningside Park through College Walk on a warm Saturday night last September.

For many participating in the third annual Morningside Lights festival, that evening was a culmination. They’d spent hours over the course of a week spread out on the stage of Miller Theatre, constructing the lanterns in an experiment in collective art-making. Schoolchildren came in class groups; undergraduates stopped by between classes; faculty and community members brought their families. In a creative game of telephone, people started projects and then handed them off to the next group when they left, with notes that said, “Hi. Can you please transform me into a dragonfish?” or “Please finish this in rainbow colors. Extras: Has a monocle; also a moustache.”

(Read the full article here)

Call for Proposals: 6th Annual Diversity in Research and Practice Conference

BSN Conference Logo 2015

2015 Diversity in Research and Practice Conference

Conference Theme: “Bridging the Gap: Uniting Agents of Change”

Keynote Speaker: Pedro Noguera

The Teachers College, Columbia University Black Student Network (BSN) Call for Proposals is our request for research proposals for the 6th Annual Diversity in Research and Practice Conference to be held on Saturday, April 25th, 2015. The Diversity in Research and Practice Conference provides a platform for students, practitioners, schools, and community leaders to engage in meaningful discourse related to contemporary issues in education.

The Black Student Network affirms that “the heart of education as a practice of freedom [must] promote growth”. The 6th Annual Diversity in Research and Practice Conference, seeks to “encourage, connect, strategize, and to share a vision” with the visionaries who have come before us and those who will come after. This will be explored through the conference theme, “Bridging the Gap: Uniting Agents of Change”.

The conference will focus on the interconnections between: research that calls for a movement beyond deficit constructs; synergies between emerging scholars and the communities they seek to empower; critical education; and culturally relevant praxis. An array of other foci that encompass the conference theme will also be considered. The conference will serve as a conduit for students to gain experience presenting their research, interface with experts, and connect with volunteer opportunities within the local community.

This year, the Diversity in Research Conference offers:

Roundtable Discussions: An opportunity for conference attendees to participate in discussion centered on a particular issue. A facilitator will provide a brief presentation of the subject in question and aid in guiding the discussion.

Poster Presentations: Participant’s work will be presented on a visual display and participant will engage attendees about their work and answer questions.

Paper Presentations: Oral presentations, aided by PowerPoint that may involve one or more presenters.

In addition to our keynote speaker, we will have a panel prior to the closing reception titled “Schools Designed With Us in Mind”. Panelists currently include: David Banks, Chris Emdin, Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, and Amy Stuart-Wells.





2/18 — 2015 Black Alumni Heritage Award and Scholarship Reception



Join the Black Alumni Council (BAC) and the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) for the 2015 Black Alumni Heritage Award and Scholarship Reception honoring this year’s recipient Roger Lehecka ’67CC, ’74GSAS, Dean Emeritus of Columbia College.

A reception with wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres will follow the program.

Please note, you must be 21 years and over to be served alcohol. No exceptions.

Date: Wednesday, February 18, 2015; 7–9 p.m.
Location: Columbia University Club of New York
15 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-7402

In advance:
$5 students
$30 alumni and guests

At the door:
$10 students
$40 alumni and guests

12/13 — HBCU/Ivy League Collaborative Panel

HBCU Lvy Panel

The BAC is partnering with the Catalyst Network Foundation for a panel discussion with alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and alumni of color from Ivy League schools.

Open to all Junior & Senior High School students in the New York City Metropolitan Area
High School Students come learn about the unique learning opportunities at
Historically Black Colleges/Universities and Ivy League Universities.

Refreshments will be provided
Discussion pertaining to College Experience & Admissions Process
Meet Alumni and admissions officers from

Columbia University, Hampton University, Harvard University, Howard University
Morehouse College, Spelman College, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University!

If you are alum of a school that is participating in the event we welcome your presence. There will be a 20 minute session before and after the panel discussion, where you will be able to engage with the high school students on a personal level an share your college experience.

Date & Time: Saturday, December 13, 2014 from 1pm to 3pm

Location: Jerome Greene Hall, 435 116th street, between Amsterdam and Morningside Drive




12/6 – Concert: You’re All I Need – Columbia University Gospel Choir and Band


The Columbia University Gospel Choir and Band would like to invite the members of the BAC community to come out to its winter concert, “You’re All I Need”.  This evening of uplifting, live gospel music, will take place on Saturday, December 6 at 7PM in the Event Oval of the Diana Center at Barnard College.

The Columbia University Gospel Choir consists of students, alumni and staff from several of the University’s schools including Barnard College, Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, GSAS and SIPA.


Date & Time: Saturday, December 6 @ 7PM
Location: The Event Oval, Diana Center, Barnard College
3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027

Tickets: $6 (with CUID), $12 (without CUID & at the door)

Five Questions with Cultural Psychologist Valerie Purdie-Vaughns


This article was originally published by Columbia News on November 26, 2014

The issue of race is foremost in the nation’s consciousness as events in Ferguson, Mo. unfold. But for Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, there is a more important message. “There are parents sitting in their home right now who buried their son,” she said. “It is a lesson about our humanity. Every other lesson is secondary.”

An associate professor of psychology studying intergroup relations and diversity, Purdie-Vaughns’ research centers on race, and the unexpected ways it can play out. On December 3, her work will be the focus of a Stavros Niarchos Foundation Brain Insight Lecture titled, “Race Matters, but Not How You Think it Does,” at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and hosted by Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

Purdie-Vaughns, a 1993 graduate of Columbia College, is the director of the University’s Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind, where she develops research on groups with threatened identities—women in the sciences, LGBT individuals in American society, aging workers in technology firms, African-Americans in intellectual settings—and examines the consequences of their devaluing experiences. Her goal is to bring new discoveries and insights on the brain and behavior to uncover ways to improve relations between majority and minority group members.

“Much of our work these days is combining insights from what we know about social context with what medical researchers and neuroscientists know about how stress affects the brain and body,” said Purdie-Vaughns.

Q How do you define cultural psychology?

It is the study of how our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are rooted in and embodied in the culture around us. Its main tenet is that mind and culture are inseparable because people are shaped by their culture and vice versa. In my course I address questions ranging from “Is there such a thing as a gay culture or a hip-hop culture or a culture of millennials?” to “How and why are certain genetic codes distributed differently among disparate populations?” The course culminates with my students conducting in-depth scientific analyses of organizations around New York City that claim to have culture as a major feature, such as Muslim police forces in Crown Heights, LGBT-only schools in Manhattan and ethnic food trucks in Brooklyn.

Q Can you give an example of one of your cultural studies?

In 2008, we conducted a field experiment to test the “Obama effect” among 6th grade minority students. The racial gap in feeling stereotyped and ignored in school between African American and white middle school students has been stubbornly persistentent, but a 15-minute “Obama role model” intervention a week after the presidential election dramatically reduced these negative feelings among these children for their entire school year. More remarkably, it improved the grades of African American and white students by the end of the marking period in which Obama was elected. These findings suggest that the impact of role models can operate through different psychological mechanisms. For both African American and white students, at least in this population, reflecting about Obama called forth his status as a role model and charismatic leader, which translated into improved performance. And for African American students, Obama’s achievements altered their feelings of being stereotyped and limited in their immediate school environment.

Q What is a “double consciousness” and can it be applied to any group?

Double consciousness stems from a passage in the first chapter of W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk. He describes how the descendants of Africans feel a sense of twoness, of being a U.S. citizen as well as black. These two identities represent two simultaneous selves—American and African or American and black. Double consciousness can be applied to any group. I have studied it among LGBT groups and religious groups on college campuses. The concept of the veil, or an ignorance of otherness, is central to understanding double consciousness. Du Bois argued that for black Americans, the veil stands between them and white America, inhibiting access to the privileges reserved for white Americans.

Q Your upcoming lecture is about how race matters in the U.S. What can you tell us about your research on this topic?

People tend to believe that race and gender operate like personality or group characteristics. This is simply not true. Decades of research tell us that the social environment that individuals find themselves in is the driving force for thoughts and concerns about identity. My research aims to close racial and gender achievement gaps in educational institutions, based on the concept of “stereotype threat,” which is the idea that when people are in situations where stereotypes about their group are relevant, the context can raise concerns about confirming that stereotype. One of those situations is when African American students find themselves in institutions where stereotypes about their group as “not smart” are at play. They subconsciously worry that they might confirm stereotypes in the minds of others, which saps cognitive functioning and undermines their performance. Our latest work shows that stereotype threat increases biological markers for cardiovascular disease and compromises brain regions associated with learning and memory.

Q What would you say to the idea that stereotypes exist because they contain some truth?

Science tells us that this is not true. Stereotypes are fixed and overgeneralized beliefs about a particular group or class of people. They help us to respond rapidly to situations because our brains tell us that we have been in that situation before, or have seen a particular group before. Stereotypes may help us to simplify our social world, but they are deeply problematic because we make generalizations about people and situations that might not be true.

— Interviewed by Wilson Valentin