Emory NAACP’s Trip to the Center for Civil and Human Rights






The Emory NAACP organized a trip to the Center for Civil and Human Rights on November 4th. From an all too realistic interactive exhibit of the Woolworth Lunch Counter Sit-Ins to alarmingly graphic photos at the Lorraine motel of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum is nothing short of an intense experience. Upon arrival, there is a beautiful mural that depicts messages throughout the history of human rights.








The museum is divided into multiple exhibits. The first floor is home to the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection. The second floor is always an exhibit to the American Civil Rights Movement and also, the gift shop. The third floor is an ode to the Global Human Rights Movement. “The exact focus of these exhibits generally change every 4 to 6 months.” stated our opening tour guide.



The Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection gallery features a rotating exhibition of items from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, where visitors can view the personal papers and items of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The theme currently is “Honoring a Legacy: Women of the Civil Rights Movement.” The role of women is often overlooked when speaking of the legacy of the American Civil Rights Movement. This rotation of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection shines a light on some of these outstanding individuals. The exhibits highlights nine women who either inspired, worked alongside or influenced Dr. King in the fight for justice and equality.


This exhibit is a “no photography zone,” because of the original documents of MLK, Jr. but I still have a couple covertly snapped pictures of some of the women included.


New Orleans native, Mahalia Jackson, had a large supportive and spiritual impact on MLK, Jr.
Dora McDonald was secretary to Dr. Benjamin Mays who the Mellon Mays Fellowship Program is named for.



This one is the most intense, popular, and thorough exhibit in the museum. The Civil Rights Movement gallery presents the brave fight for equality in The American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. There are multiple interactive displays depicting the courageous struggles of individuals working to transform the United States from Jim Crow laws to equal rights for all. The most intense and visceral part of the museum is the interactive Woolworth’s Lunch Counter. Visitors put on noise cancelling headphones and sit in a red chair as a timer starts, “Let’s see how long you last” starts the recording. This daunting statement is followed by voices of racist, whites taunting and cursing at you while the chair is kicked and shaken from all angles. Time after time, people left the exhibit in tears. The museum’s exhibits, particularly this one, tell stories in ways that promote empathy and understanding.


Interactive testimony recounting Freedom Ride participants’ experiences.
Interactive Woolworth Lunch Counter



The Human Rights Movement gallery enables visitors to make connections to the world of human rights. The gallery features interactive technology intended for all audiences to help visitors gain a deeper understanding of human rights and how they affect the lives of every person. With interactive stories of people who have been stripped of their human rights, this exhibit is extremely interactive and attracts international visitors year round.


Quite naturally, there was a large focus on states in the South. Whenever there was a button to press for “Louisiana” or “New Orleans,” y’all know I pressed it. Although I was proud to see New Orleans native Mahalia Jackson be featured largely in the women’s exhibit, every other time my home was mentioned I was jarred. I say jarred in a way that is not synonymous with shocked or surprised though, for I am no longer shocked by many things when it comes to the ongoing fight for civil rights in America. I say jarred in a way that evinces my unpleasant or disturbed reaction to Louisiana’s heavy involvement in pushing back against civil rights progress. The headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan was in Shreveport, Louisiana. People were beaten on Freedom Rides to New Orleans. While New Orleans, a cultural and social enclave, is pushing daily to right our wrongs, the state of Louisiana as a whole is decades behind. I hope that as more museums like this promote empathy in the hearts of people nationwide, maybe we will be closer to a more humane society. 


What’s Actually Going On With ILA?

What’s actually going on with the ILA?

In 2012, the Dean of Emory College, Robin Forman, said “Finally, we will suspend graduate admissions to the ILA (Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts) and reorganize the ILA into an institute without permanent faculty. In this reimagined institute, we will strive to create a more fluid structure for promoting interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching, perhaps through rotating faculty appointments.”

The Institute for the Liberal Arts, which is in fact still intact at the undergraduate level and still offers the IDS program, sponsors a seminar series that features interdisciplinary faculty new to Emory.

Link to articles explaining the dissolution of Emory’s Graduate level of ILA: http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/emory-u-will-close-3-departments-as-part-of-broad-academic-restructuring/48872


Who can attend these seminars?

These special seminars are open to students and faculty from across the university.

What’s the typical format of these seminars?

3:30PM-4:00PM: Refreshments are served to all in attendance. This gives attendees time to meet the professor and allows for a more informal environment.

4:00PM-4:20PM: The speaker presents a provocative problem or issue from their research, aimed toward a general audience.

4:20PM-5:00PM: A discussion among all those present is catalyzed by the speaker’s research.

What was the topic of this seminar?

Abigail Sewell: “Hypermarginalization in Policing: The Illness Burden of Racial and Gender Disparities in Use of Force by Police”






I took the silent cue from other students in the room and put away my computer and pulled out the old-fashioned notebook and pen to take notes. Professor Sewell analyzes illness risks associated with systems of inequalities. She has reached a conclusion that excessive negative police experiences or interaction creates a weathering effect on the bodies of people of color by inciting the fight or flight response over and over again. I went from writing a million pen strokes a minute when she introduced her research topic to completely putting the pen down when she went in depth about her usage of equations and the statistical analysis tests that she used for each intersection. This information was dense and extremely developed. I was the only undergraduate student in a room filled with grad students and established professors.

Why is Professor Sewell a credible source?

Abigail Sewell, an Assistant Professor at Emory University in the Department of Sociology, focuses on the political economy of racial health disparities, the social construction of racial health care disparities, and quantitative approaches for studying racial inequality and structural racism. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from Indiana University and her B.A. in Sociology (Minor in Women’s Studies) from the University of Florida.

Why should this still qualify as a “Grad Life” post?

The majority of students in attendance were graduate students who took a specific interest in maintaining ILA sponsored events after the ILA was dissolved. These students had either participated in the undergraduate level of ILA or they would like an opportunity for more interdisciplinary studies on the graduate level.

The ILA program is a program that would instill a liberal arts and evidence based education in Emory graduate students, which is something that Emory claims to be very passionate about. The way it is structured now, with no permanent faculty, is a disadvantage to Emory graduate students and it should be reverted to its previous structure. Emory has one of the highest endowments in the nation, so despite their given reasoning that the program was not financially sustainable, I do not understand why they would not keep this program alive on the graduate level.

When are the next seminars and what will they be about?

The Law School Panel: Emory BLSA & Emory BPLS







On Wednesday night, the Emory Black Law Student Association crossed Clifton Road and met up with the Emory Black Pre Law Society to answer questions regarding the dos and don’ts of undergraduate life when you are preparing for law school in the future. The attendance for this event was lower than any other Black Pre Law Society event thus far, surprisingly. It was mostly law school students and seniors in the college. The discussion took place in the form of a panel.


Who was on the panel?


  • A first year law student (referred to as a “1L”)
  • A third year law student who also had the perspective of working in the law school admissions office and is a transfer student (“3L”)
  • A non-practicing attorney who attended Hampton and Mercer Law, she has a law based Youtube channel(“AT”)


The moderator asked a question to the panel and they could respond as they felt appropriate and often times would “piggyback” off of each other’s answers and throw in more tips and strategies. Some of the most fitting questions for first years and their most helpful and common answers are listed below!


Why did you decide to go to law school? What type of law are you planning to practice?


1L: I had no intentions of going to law school until my senior year of college. I had a fashion degree from FIT and found a way to combine that with law after having tons of discussions with one of my professors and just went from there.

3L: I have known since high school. Law school was just always the route for me. I plan to practice labor and unemployment law.

AT: I have a weirder story. Everyone in my family has been divorced at least once, so I just knew divorce law was for me. I wanted to have a huge billboard off the side of 85. Now I am in law school recruitment instead so you never know where your JD will take you.


How did you study for the LSAT?


1L: I used the Blueprint test prep course, and a whole lot of brutal self study.

3L: I used the Kaplan test prep, but would not recommend it at all. Kaplan isn’t individualistic enough and if I had to do it all over, I would get a private tutor.

AT: I did the Kaplan live online course, and very little self study. I only got a 140 the first time, so I did the in class Kaplan to bring up my score. If I could do it all over, I would take at least 30 practice exams.  


Do you have any tips for writing the personal statement?


3L: Emory wants to know what you learned from your experiences and how you plan to implement that in the Emory community. Your personal statement doesn’t have to be some life changing event, they would rather see something you’re passionate about than a really prestigious award.

AT: BE PERSONAL! Stop being hella generic. If I never have to see the sentence, “I have been through so much adversity,” I would be happy. For most law schools, there is no interview aspect so your personal statement needs to be very telling.

  • tell a story or have a consistent theme
  • talk about specific law school plans (what kind of law you want to practice)
  • talk about specific reasons you are applying to the law school you’re applying to


What was most important when you were choosing law schools?



  1. Scholarships
  2. Connections
  3. Location



  1. Diversity
  2. Location
  3. Scholarships



  1. Diversity
  2. Black Law Student Association Presence
  3. Location/Cost of Living



Overall, I feel that the small crowd size made for a comfortable, more informal environment. The panelists were open and really wanted to see the undergraduate students succeed. They offered their cards to attendees and encouraged us to keep our studies first. I also think the panelist’s different backgrounds allowed them to have a wide variety of perspectives on the law school application experience, yet they still firmly agreed with each other on certain things.

Break The Silence: Domestic Violence

TW: Domestic Abuse








In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Phenomenal Women of the Omicron Xi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority hosted an event called “Break the Silence!” This past Sunday, October 15, in the Center for Women located in Cox Hall, my roommate and I participated in an open forum revolving around interpartner violence and its effect on and relevance to women of color.

This discussion was a very open and honest one. Jamechya Duncan from Emory’s Respect program, Emory’s central hub for interpersonal violence prevention and survivor resiliency, was the main facilitator. She shared her personal experience with domestic abuse and the struggle that she experienced when she tried to escape the situation. She emphasized the mental and emotional trauma that remains with victims when they are finally able to escape a violent situation. She advocated for the presence of supportive friends through every stage, and shared very personal aspects of her experience with domestic abuse. There was an opportunity to ask questions towards the end and the event ended up lasting an hour longer than anticipated due to the conversational aspect that the forum took on.

If you find yourself in a situation involving domestic/intimate partner violence, there are many outlets for support and assistance on Emory’s campus, in the Atlanta community, and nationally.

Fall Break on Cane River



The excitement had been building for weeks. Everytime my aunt’s name popped up on my phone, I would smirk because I knew it would be something pertaining to the surprise that we were planning for my mawmaw and pawpaw. I had bought my plane ticket and began to make my packing list. The only people who knew I was coming were my aunt and my mom. More than tired of food from the duc-ling, I submitted my list of meal requests to my mom so she could bless me with some home-cooked meals. From the smothered turkey necks to the shrimp and grits, to the spaghetti and meatsauce, to the meat pies, I might have gained my freshman 15 in this one week.

Spending time with my family gave me the refreshed feeling I was looking for but it also completely obliterated my sense of homesickness. I am completely fine with not seeing my family until Thanksgiving. My curfew went back into effect while I was home, there were many more chores to do than there are in my small dorm room, and everyone wanted to know who I was dating and what was my decided major.

My short time in Natchitoches was pretty eventful. I got to take professional pictures with my godson, be diagnosed with pneumonia, and finally go to mass at my church. I was able to spend time with my brother for the weekend. The best part of my weekend was everyone talked super fast and nobody commented on my accent.

The Linkup: Blackness is not a Single Experience

Disclaimer: Not many pictures because the BlackStar Magazine livestreamed and took photographs of the event, and asked that past a certain times, no pictures be taken.






In 2009, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a TED talk called “The Danger of a Single Story.” It was about what happens when different human beings are reduced to a single narrative or experience. For example, when Africans  are treated as pitiable poor, starving victims with flies swarming their bodies. More fitting for this article, when black people are all expected to share beliefs, culture, and history regardless of where they come from and what their backgrounds actually are.

On Tuesday, September 26th, black people of all different shades and backgrounds poured into the Emory Black Student Union (EBSU). The occasion? An event called “The Linkup.” Representatives from the Black Student Alliance (BSA), Emory NAACP,  and the African and Caribbean Student Associations came together to begin a series of tough talks in the black community at Emory. The moderator, pictured standing, focused on the power of being an advocate for social change. He emphasized the importance of learning effective communication and being willing to listen to conflicting point of views with the intent to learn, and not sway.

The topic for this debate was in question form, “Do black students find the black community to be alienating despite a large focus on inclusivity?” The debate was separated into a “yes” and “no” side of the argument. It included opening arguments, rebuttal, cross examination, and a closing argument. The “yes” side focused on how many cultural communities are judgmental with the typical “you’re not black enough” narrative. They also mentioned the importance of creating community and safe spaces for people to express and deal with their experiences and their emotions. The “no” side focused on points such as a large increase in participation in events put on by black organizations and the fact that many black communities on campus pride themselves on their stance that blackness is all encompassing and not a singular experience.

In the end, there seemed to a general consensus that there doesn’t always need to be a general consensus. Blackness is not a single story. All black people don’t look alike, all black people don’t eat the same food, we don’t share the same family unit, our hair doesn’t hold the same curl as each other, and our identities as a black person and also as an individual are not exclusive. We do not share a single story, and we embrace that.

Professor Carol Anderson and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship


Cydni Holloway, Professor Carol Anderson, and Chelby Sterling at Essence of Emory. April 2017. (from left to right)


Chelby Sterling and Professor Carol Anderson at MMUF Informational. September 2017. (from left to right)










“Do the thing that feeds your soul.” These are the words that sealed the deal on my matriculation to Emory University. The Essence of Emory program allowed black and latino accepted students to experience Emory before committing. This is where I met Professor Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor, Chair of African American Studies, MMUF Coordinator, Author of multiple award winning books, and so much more. She advised my current roommate and I in so many aspects of life in the small amount of time we spent with her. We both mounted our decision to choose Emory over schools like Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern on words of wisdom from Professor Carol Anderson.

Carol Anderson came back into my life when I received an email from her regarding a nomination for the MMUF or Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. I was ecstatic, because that meant there was a possibility that I could receive funding for research in the humanities. The meeting was from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM Thursday evening, so I rushed from my National Politics class that ended at 6:45 to Candler Library 207. When I walked in, Professor Anderson’s face lit up! I could not believe she had remembered me. She continued her presentation on MMUF and eventually opened the floor up for discussion and questions. When the initial rush of questions died down, she looked to me and mentioned to the room that I was an “essence baby” in April and kept saying how glad she was that I chose Emory.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship is a fellowship program for minority students that aims to reduce the under-representation on the faculties of colleges and universities throughout the country. It acts as a support system for minority students who plan to eventually pursue a Ph.D in core fields in the arts and science and join academia. The MMUF program has 48 American colleges and universities , 39 UNCF member institutions, and 3 South African universities on its roster. The program funds approved undergraduate research and GRE prep. There’s also an integral mentorship program and partnership program. People eligible to apply are rising seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.2, but if you are interested contact one of the three program coordinators as soon as possible.


Elm Street Eatery: NOLA Style

I pulled up to the cutest little house on Elm Street in an Uber and called my mom to tell her I was outside, she said she tracked my phone and already knew so the door was unlocked. She tracked my phone as long as I remembered because my mom is the definition of over protective. When I walked in, the kitchen was filled with savory aromas; if only I could share that smell with a picture. She had Camellia red beans simmering in a pot, crawfish étouffée in a bowl, and had just began preparations for stuffed bell peppers.








I said “Wow, ma. You really transformed this AirBNB into the ‘Elm Street Eatery’ with all this cooking.” She recanted in that New Orleans accent that I had missed so much, “Girllllll, when you told me that you ain’t had no red beans in three whole weeks, I had to come see ya. That should be illegal.” She poured me a glass of wine and told me to let her know how the étouffée was, even though she had cooked it over a hundred times since I was born.








She had flown with so many pots, pans, and bags of seafood stuffed in her checked luggage that TSA broke the locks on her bags.








She saw me taking pictures of everything and said “You and that damn snapchat, always taking pictures. Just live!” I explained to her that it was for a school assignment and that I was posting on a blog. Upon hearing that, she said “oh, well take a better picture of me!” I ended up bargaining with her, I would only take a better picture of her if she fixed me a bowl of red beans.






She finally finished cooking everything she planned to, and sat down and talked with me about what was happening back home, how my classes were, and the cases of water she wanted to get me in preparation for the hurricane heading toward Georgia.  After eating my favorite meal ever, stuffed bell peppers and baked macaroni and cheese; she suggested we end my blog with a “cute selfie.”

Gentrification in Atlanta: Focus on Old Fourth Ward Park

Google Map of Loudhaus in Old Fourth Ward

Coffee shops that serve drinks we can’t even pronounce, overpriced high rise apartments, and stores selling jewelry that costs more than our rent, just two blocks away from the houses where we grew up. Gentrification is a phenomenon “occurring nationwide. It’s defined by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as, “the process of renewal and rebuilding to accompany an influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” There are many examples of this in Atlanta and surrounding areas such as Old Fourth Ward, Cabbagetown, and Grant Park.

Old Fourth Ward Park, specifically, has been in the process of gentrification for decades. “The area west of Boulevard went from 12% to 30% white and the area east of Boulevard went from 2% to 20% white,” according to Wikipedia. Expensive new apartments and condos caught the attention of many buyers, due to the proximity to popular areas like Downtown, Midtown, and Inman Park. Wikipedia describes these neighborhoods as attractive to buyers due to its “urban vibes.” I’m assuming the Urban Vibes being discussed there are the same ones people talk about in New Orleans, the ones that typically make white women clutch their purses to their sides, lock their car doors, or cross the street. Apparently these same “urban vibes” are the ones that developers are looking to drive out with their overpriced living prices that they market as “city living that is financially attainable to a broad spectrum of renters.”

Gentrification displaces native residents and causes affordable housing to become few and far between. The needs of the community becomes overlooked and development planners become the priority. Some people feel that gentrification is a process that takes many years, giving natives to the area ample amount of time to relocate. Proponents for gentrification tend not to use the term, and instead opt for “economic development.” They argue that if wealthy people didn’t move into the areas that they would stay economically undeveloped.


Flats at Ponce City Market. N.p., n.d. Web.

“Gentrification.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web.

“Gentrification of Atlanta.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Aug. 2017. Web.