Nineteen Fifty-Six Vol. 2 No. 3 The Evolution of Black Media

This is the February 2022 Issue of Nineteen Fifty-Six magazine. The theme "The Evolution of Black Media" highlights the history and cultural significance of Black magazines.

This is the February 2022 Issue of Nineteen Fifty-Six magazine. The theme "The Evolution of Black Media" highlights the history and cultural significance of Black magazines.


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You do matter. The numerous achievements and talents

of Black students deserve to be recognized. As of Fall

2021, 11.16% of students on campus identified as Black or

African American. Black students are disproportionately

underrepresented in various areas on campus. Nineteen

Fifty-Six is a Black student-led magazine that amplifies

the voices within the University of Alabama’s Black

community. It also seeks to educate students from all

backgrounds on culturally important issues and topics

in an effort to produce socially-conscious, ethical and

well-rounded citizens.











Tionna Taite

Nickell Grant

Ashton Jah

Tyler Hogan

Madison Davis

Jolencia Jones

Ashlee Woods

Farrah Sanders








Rachel Parker, Lyric


Anaya McCullum, CJ

Thomas, Tonya Williams,

Lyric Wisdom

Karris Harmon, Asia

Smith, Christian Thomas,

Jordan Strawter

Danielle S. McAllister,

Farrah Sanders


Nineteen Fifty-Six is published by the Office of Student Media at The University of Alabama. All content and

design are produced by students in consultation with professional staff advisers. All material contained herein,

except advertising or where indicated otherwise, is copyrighted © 2021 by Nineteen Fifty-Six magazine. Material

herein may not be reprinted without the expressed, written permission of Nineteen Fifty-Six magazine. Editorial

and Advertising offices for Nineteen Fifty-Six Magazine are located at 414 Campus Drive East, Tuscaloosa, AL

35487. The mailing address is P.O. Box 870170, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487. Phone: (205) 348-7257.

Pictured in the cover is Jalyn Crosby. Cover photography by Anaya McCullum.



John H. Johnson was the creator of the Negro

Digest, Ebony, and JET. His entrepreneurship

inspired much of the media scene within the

Black community. When he initially had the

idea to create his first publication, the Negro

Digest, he recieved a lot of discouragement.

However, his mother believed in him and

allowed him to use her furniture as collateral

for a $500 loan. By having only one person

believe in his vision, Johnson was able to

create the Johnson Publishing Company

along with three of the top Black magazines

in history.


time for a Negro magazine,

the time for a Negro Digest or

an Ebony or JET, had come and

nothing could stop it if-and it’s a

big if – the idea could find a man

or a woman who willing to do

anything or almost anything, to

make the time come.

- John H. Johnson


Growing up, I loved reading Ebony, JET,

and Essence. I was always delighted when

the latest edition of these magazines were

delivered to my house. While getting my hair

done at the salon, there would often be stacks

of older editions of these magazines for me

to read. Truly, these magazines played a big

role in instilling confidence within me as a

young Black girl in the South.

I truly love Ebony, JET, and Essence. But

if I had to choose, Ebony magazine would

probably be my favorite. This is because

Ebony paved the way for JET and Essence

magazine. Ebony magazine was one of

the first publications to display all of the

beautiful aspects of Black culture.

For this magazine issue, I wanted to

highlight the history of Black media along

with it’s evolution. During Black History

Month, I felt it was important to honor Black

publications such as Ebony, JET, and Essence.

In fact, the front cover of this magazine issue

was inspired by Ebony’s vintage covers.

I am excited to present the February 2022

issue of Nineteen Fifty-Six to you all. I

hope this magazine issue inspires you and

educates you about the history and evolution

of Black media.

















April 8!

Visit sheltonstate.edu to apply and register!

It is the policy of the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees and Shelton State Community College, a

postsecondary institution under its control, that no person shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion,

marital status, disability, gender, age, or any other protected class as defined by federal and state law, be excluded

from participation, denied benefits, or subjected to discrimination under any program, activity, or employment.


Ebony Magazine was founded by the late John

H. Johnson in 1945. Johnson, a prominent Black

entrepreneur, developed Ebony with the intent for

the publication to be modeled after Life magazine, but for

a Black audience. Under his company, Johnson Publishing,

he envisioned a publication for the Black audience that

would fill in the gap of coverage from white publications, in

highlighting the achievements and positive news concerning

the Black community.

“[Ebony] will try to mirror the happier side of Negro life

— the positive, everyday achievements from Harlem to

Hollywood,” Johnson said. “But when we talk about race as

the No. 1 problem of America, we’ll talk turkey.”

Johnson wanted Ebony to speak frankly about issues of

race and not pretend that it isn’t an issue and speak to an

audience that was not given the acknowledgement and

understanding of their issues as their white counterparts.

Ebony magazine was a welcome addition to the Black

community, seeing images and ideas that resonated with

many Black people gave a positive feeling of inclusion. The

magazine became apart of all parts of Black life as explained

from a 2019 New York Times article stating, “Starved for

affirming images, African-Americans made Ebony and

its sister magazine, Jet, fixtures in homes and businesses

— particularly beauty parlors and barber shops, where

customers typically read while waiting to be served.”

Controlling their own narratives and images was uplifting

and empowering for Black people, especially during this

time as the media landscape of the white press treated Black

people as less than or non-existent. Their treatment of the

Black community can be described as the “degenerating

sense of ‘nobodiness,’” coined by The Rev Dr. Martin Luther

King Jr. This is a feeling that you do not matter and are

not worthy of the respect of a title of Mr./Mrs., which only

solidified this feeling of despair and distrust among the

Black community towards the white press.

Johnson sought to change this by being that publication for

his community to trust and enjoy. The popularity of Ebony

magazine went further than the familiar, positive imagery

of Black people as explained by former Johnson Publishing

Company Senior Editor, Dr. Margena A. Christian from a

2019 WGN 9 interview, “Ebony and Jet [were] finding stories

that others had no interest in. We showed the humanity of

African-Americans, and we were doing more than just trying

to enlighten people, we were working to uplift and empower


This sentiment is reinforced by a comment in a 2021 NPR

article by Clint Wilson, a journalism professor at Howard

University, “If we go back to the founding of the Black press,

there was a hunger, a thirst to unify as a community.” This

need for unification showcased itself in different ways as

Ebony reframed the relationship between its Black readers

with advertisers as well as history.

Johnson’s motive to portray Black people in a positive

light began with smiling images of Black women cover

models along with homes of middle and upper class Black

families. This convinced advertisers that including Black

people in their advertisements would benefit them, by the

1970s’ advertisements for Coca-Cola and Virginia Slims

incorporated Black faces.

The inclusion of history was prominent on the magazine

covers and within the publication during the 1960s’ Civil

Rights Movement with the May 1965 cover featuring Dr.

Martin Luther King Jr. hand in hand with his wife Coretta

Scott King along with 50,000 others as they marched in

Montgomery. Ebony continued to highlight Dr. King’s

journey until his death with his final cover image being

Coretta at his funeral in April 1968. Articles with then

executive editor, Lerone Bennett Jr., penning a column titled,

Black Power, gave an in-depth profile of Stokely Carmichael,

former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating

Committee (SNCC).

By the 1980s’ Ebony was reaching 40% of African American

adults, unmatched by any other general publication. But,

as time went on circulation began to dwindle going from a

monthly print schedule to double issues once each month.

This led into the digital age in 2016 when Johnson Publishing

sold Ebony and Jet to private equity firm CVG Group.

But again, with issues of circulation coupled with complaints

of unpaid wages, Ebony filed for bankruptcy in 2019. What

may have seemed like a permanent ending, was rewritten

into a new beginning when in December 2020, Ebony was

bought for $14 million by Bridgeman Sports and Media,

owned by retired Milwaukee Bucks forward Ulysses “Junior”


After a relaunch on March 1, 2021, Ebony returned with a new

mindset and motto, “Moving Black Forward.” While being a

digital publication, they are continuing to focus on issues

relevant to their audience now with the promotion of Black

generational wealth. Through highlighting small Blackowned

businesses in select cities of Atlanta and New York


in the form of a “block party” streamed on the magazine’s

Youtube channel they are continuing the inclusion and

acknowledgement of the Black community in areas where

they were being overlooked or forgotten.

Even now by reintroducing themselves to a new generation

of readers, the Ebony legacy is still remembered and valued.

The other magazines they’re not geared towards African

Americans, just a general audience ,” UA student Auriel King

said. “You probably won’t see too many [African Americans]

in there. But with Ebony, that’s all that you see, which is

great. So, no matter your shade or size, you’re for sure going

to see someone who looks like you in that magazine because

that’s who they cater to.”

King, a Senior majoring in Human Development and Family

Studies, recalls seeing Ebony magazines around her home as

a child and receiving issues in the mail monthly. Their eyecatching

covers are what she remembers most, showcasing

Black entertainers in a glamorous light and allure.

The appeal of Ebony magazine moving forward are the

plans of continuing to incorporate their core audience and

their needs through different mediums. These include the

relaunching of Fashion Fair cosmetics and recently the

special limited edition print issue that was released on

February 11th which featured HBCU Stem Queens gracing

the cover.

With such a storied history, Ebony magazine encompasses

the cultural influences and significance of the Black

community. Stepping forward into a new era as stated in

a 2021 Chicago Tribune article by Ebony CEO, Michele

Ghee, “Our commitment is not to any city, but to the Black

community. “We know who our boss is and our boss is them,

and their opportunity to have the truth. And we want to

provide that.”





Providing you with tools and

resources to help you monitor and

manage your own mental health.

Download the WellTrack app and

register with your crimson email address.







The creation and cultivation of Black culture is one

of the most compelling stories of our beauty and

resilience in the modern world. An integral piece

of this story is the storyteller. Black media has evolved

over years while keeping one centralized goal in mind:

“For us, by us.”

Essence magazine has represented Black women and their

voices for over 50 years. This award-winning magazine

began as a resource for the Black community by placing

fashion, lifestyle, and beauty at the forefront.

The idea was birthed in 1968, when Edward Lewis,

Clarence O. Smith, Cecil Hollingsworth and Jonathan

Blount founded Hollingsworth Group. This would later

be named Essence Communications, Inc. Originally titled

“Sapphire Magazine”, the founders aimed to have the title

reflect the gem-like beauty and resilience of Black women.

Luckily, they changed the title after discussions about the

harmful Sapphire stereotype and readers’ likelihood to

associate the magazine with the disrespectful trope.

The magazine came about during the era ofBlack

capitalism.” Black capitalism is a Nixon-era political

movement among African-Americans. This narrative was

built around the idea of generational and community

wealth being developed through ownership and

development of businesses. Many Black media giants were

birthed or rose to new levels of prominence because of

this belief such as Black Entertainment Television (BET

for short).

In May of 1970, the first issue of Essence Magazine was

ready to grace the shelves. According to Lewis and Smith,

the lifestyle publication was supposed to be aimed at

“upscale African-American women”.

For this publication to be successful it needed to be

backed by staff that understood the experience of Black

women. Many figures that supported the magazine’s

humble beginnings had little-to-no prior experience in

publishing and journalism. This includes Susan Taylor.

Taylor caught wind of a budding magazine focused on the

experiences of Black women and contacted then Editor-

In-Chief Ed Lewis. Taylor had no editorial experience but

was a licensed cosmetologist. At the age of 23, she was

hired as Essence’s first ever beauty editor.

The monthly magazine saw notable success and by 1975

had amassed around $3.5 million in advertisements. Its

January 1977 issue had about 550,000 issues circulated.

Power struggles between the founders and creative

directors ensued in the mid 1970s. By 1977, Gordon Parks

Sr., creative director for Essence, took legal action. Parks

cited that he was entitled to more creative control and Ed

Lewis was prohibiting other input. Cecil Hollingsworth

and Jonathan Blount, who left over management disputes,

backed Parks push for more executive control. Parks

eventually left the publication.

By 1981, Susan Taylor had been promoted to Editor-In-

Chief with Ed Lewis still presiding as CEO of Essence

Communications. Essence’s popularity continued to grow,

only being rivaled by other Black focused publications

like Ebony and JET Magazine. Black women felt as though

they could relate to the stories as well as the celebrity

profiles being shared in each issue.

As the era ofBlack capitalism” was seemingly coming

to a close, certain heads of Black media were selling

companies to white-owned companies. Berry Gordy sold

Motown records in the late 80s to a holding company

and Robert Johnson sold BET to Viacom in 2000. In 2005,

Essence sold all of its assets to Time, Inc. making it no

longer Black owned.

This sparked polarizing opinions. Some applauded

Lewis for creating the amount of revenue he did, citing

him as a shining example of Black capitalism’s ability to

bring profit to our community. Others cited the irony of

basing his success in capitalism while he profits off of the

experiences of Black women, only to sell the company and

ostracize Black women further.

Essence continued to produce issues and events focused

on Black women. This includes the continuation of the

Essence Music Festival, which started in 1995.

In 2017, Time Inc. decided to sell Essence Communications

Inc. to Shea Moisture founder Richelieu Dennis.

Dennis launched Essence Ventures, LLC. to handle the

continuation of the magazine. Essence magazine was

Black owned again and still is as of today. Chief Content

Officer Derek T. Dingle labeled the transaction as

“groundbreaking” and added that this is an example of

how African-American entrepreneurs “can execute with

vision and wherewithal to return valuable institutions to

African American ownership.”

Currently, Essence still rests as a cornerstone of Black

media. Erykah Murray, a recent graduate of UA, remembers

having Essence delivered to her house growing up.

“It was a cool thing growing up and seeing women that

look like me on the cover of magazines. Now I’m older and

I’m planning to go to the Essence Festival,” said Murray.

“I’ve heard about [the festival] so much, I just needed

to experience it and I’m excited to see Black beauty,

excellence, food, music—all of it really.”

Essence came from humble beginnings, developed a deep

history, and established a strong relationship with the

Black community. It serves as a long-standing reminder

that Black women and their voices matter.



I Miss You

We lost time and space

I let you go,

You let me fly free

Maybe one day we’ll see

But right now,

It’s just me

Though I don’t feel peace,

I feel you in the breeze



The journey of becoming a transgender or gender

non-conforming individual is difficult, especially

for Black individuals.

For many that have transitioned, what they knew about

transgender or gender non-conforming people along with

how they were viewed by society came from depictions

of them in the media. The caricature of these groups of

people combined with the demonizing of them in media

affected the ability for transgender people to accurately

tell their stories.

In the Netflix original documentary, Disclosure, the long

history of transgender misrepresentation and the fight

for change is addressed.

On Oct. 27, 2021, the University of Alabama’s Women and

Gender Resource Center (WGRC) held a screening of

Disclosure, followed by a Q&A session with guests from

the Birmingham AIDS Outreach organization. Program

coordinator Elizabeth Lester talked to attendees over

zoom about the importance of having this event.


Lester wanted to bring in people from these respective

communities to share their stories. The guests from the

Birmingham AIDS outreach organization were Sinseriti

Banks and Lauren Jacobs of the Magic City Acceptance


“October is LGBTQ History Month, and I knew that I

wanted to do a program that raised awareness around

trans and non-binary representation,” Lester said.

The documentary delves into the long history of

misrepresentation of transgender and gender nonconforming

people in media. A central theme discussed

in the documentary was the mystifying of transgender


“I think, for a very long time the ways in which trans

people have been represented on-screen have suggested

that we’re not real, have suggested that we’re mentally ill,

that we don’t exist,” actress Laverne Cox said.

Creating mystery around who transgender people really

are allows the media to play on the fear this mystery can

bring. Within this fear, inaccurate characterizations of

transgender people begin to exist.

The silent film, A Florida Enchantment is one of the most

prominent examples. In this film, the female character

takes a pill that turns her into a man. Her housemaid takes

that same pill. What is different is how each character is

depicted after transitioning to a man. The housemaid, a

white male wearing blackface, is an angry, monstrous and

vengeful Black person. The white female becomes the

image of what a man should become in society. The roots

of misrepresentation of Black transgender people lie in


Films like A Florida Enchantment depicts transgender

people—especially ones of color—as violent people

incapable of emotion, effectively dehumanizing them.

The dehumanization of people in this community has

allowed the media to create feelings of fear towards trans

people, especially trans people of color.

When transgender people aren’t the villain, they are

often depicted as outcasts or odditities that don’t belong

in society. Because of this, transgender people become

the butt of several jokes. Guest speaker Sinseriti Banks

discussed the pain this can bring during the Q&A section

of the event.

“It hurts,” Banks said. “You always stick out like a sore

thumb, you’re the topic of the conversation, sometimes

the butt of the joke.”

The act of mischaracterization doesn’t start and end

with transgender people. As the documentary points

out, the film industry has a history of dehumanizing

Black men. These jokes often depict Black men as either

hypermasculine or overly feminine. No nuance or depth

are given to these characters and the majority white

audiences enjoying these shows or movies no longer have

fear of Black men.

In the 1989 film Glory, a Black soldier raises his hand at a

white woman with no regard to her life while storming

the town of Darien, Georgia. In the scene, Colonel James

Montgomery refers to his unit as “little monkey children”

that need to be controlled.

“Stop treating us like we’re animals at a zoo or we’re dogs

at the Humane Society that you have never seen before,”

Sinseriti Banks challenges. “We’re human.”

While this is a historical nonfiction movie, the idea

of hypermasculine Black men is still prevalent. The

colonel—a white male—sees himself as the owner of

the men in his regiment. Throughout the long history

of the media, white people are controlling their Black

counterparts. Black and transgender people can only be

what their white counterparts view them as. In the media,

minority groups often have no control over their identity.

It doesn’t stop at the hypermasculinity of Black men,


In comedy, it’s common for men and women to dress up as

outlandish characters for sketches. The problem with this

is that most of these characters are Black women depicted

by Black men.

In the hit comedy sketch show In Living Color, actor Jamie

Foxx often played Wanda Wayne in sketches. Wayne—a

loud, brash and often aggressive Black woman—was


a crowd favorite. Foxx wore bright colored dresses,

blonde and curly wigs and bold makeup often.

To most of the audiences viewing the show, Foxx was

just playing a goofy character. But to others, Wanda

Wayne was a dark reminder of how society viewed Black


“If I’m not laughing, is it a joke, you know,” Writer Tiq

Milan said in the film. “It [transgender jokes] lends

itself to this idea that we’re just comedy, that we’re just

some kind of freaks, that we just playin’ dress up in

order to make other people laugh.”

Comedians dressing up as women and making

lighthearted jokes about real issues the transgender

community faces further distorts the stories of

transgender people. These jokes makes transgender

people feel seen but misunderstood.

Disclosure provided attendees with a deeper

understanding of the history of transgender people in

media. After the film, both Lauren Jacobs and Sinseriti

Banks had thoughts they wanted to leave the attendees

with. Jacobs talks about the influence Alabama has in

this movement.

“I love any moment that proves to people that, as

Alabama, we are part of this conversation, we have

always been a part of this conversation, we have always

had our own queer and trans history, it’s just that

people don’t often pay attention,” Jacobs said.

The job for cisgendered people now is to start paying

more attention to how they view and depict transgender

people, especially those of color. Understanding the

impact the media has is a step in the right direction. It

must be followed by a change of heart.








Picture yourself walking into a Black-owned beauty

salon in the mid-2000s. The smell of Blue Magic

grease and hot combs are a welcoming scent. You

sit in the waiting area, thinking about how sore your scalp

may be after this. Then you picture your freshly done hair

and remember that it’ll all be worth it. As you wait for a

chair to free up, you peer down at the stack of magazines

in front of you. To your surprise, JET Magazine has a new

issue out. You pick it up and can’t wait to flip through

each page.

This level of anticipation for JET Magazine was and still

is felt by readers for 70 years now. Armyll Smith recalls

having the magazine as a coffee table staple in their youth.

“I remember it was so cool to look at growing up. Maybe

I didn’t understand some of the news because I was so

young but the culture. The culture carried. I wanted the

hairstyles, the clothes; I wanted to order the CDs they

recommended. It was a whole movement,” Smith said.

To look back at its genesis is to realize how monumental

a magazine like this was. JET Magazine began publishing

in 1952 under John H. Johnson’s publishing company.

Johnson is considered a legend in paving the way for

Black media.

“It’s impossible to overstate the significance of Johnson

publications in telling the story of Black America,” said

Donovan X. Ramsey, head of the Instagram account @


JET marketed itself as the “Weekly Negro News

Magazine”, covering the quickly unfolding Civil Rights

Movement. The name “JET” stuck with Johnson because

he wanted it to symbolize “Black and speed”. He cited

that news moved so quickly. The publication’s aim was to

provide “news coverage on happenings among Negroes

all over the U.S.—in entertainment, politics, sports, social

events as well as features on unusual personalities, places

and events.”

JET garnered national attention with its coverage of

Emmett Till’s murder. Images of the teenager’s brutalized

body as he lay in his casket circulated throughout the

nation by way of JET. This contributed to bringing

national attention to the violence of the Jim Crow South

which propelled the growing Civil Rights Movement


Taking their growing audience into consideration, JET

continued to cover the Civil Rights Movement as well

as other social justice movements. From 1970-1975, JET

gave physicians the platform to discuss scientific facts

surrounding abortion and reproductive rights.

The magazine covered news on happenings among

African-Americans all over the U.S.—in entertainment,

politics, sports, social events as well as features on unusual

personalities, places and events. Celebrities and notable

figures graced the Black and white covers.

JET also became well known for its centerfold feature,

“JET Beauty of the Week.” Polarizing to say the least, JET

Beauty of the Week has been a centerpiece of the magazine

since its inception. Each issue featured a beautiful Black

woman and a short bio about herself. These women had

ranging career paths such as beauty consultants, college

students, aspiring politicians, and musicians.



Black women who gained success later in life

credited the centerfold piece as their start, from the

likes of television beauty Willona Woods to Blaxpoitation

icon Pam Grier.

Noliwe M. Rooks believes that the platform “brought

Black female bodies into the mainstream” and

challenged beauty standards set by mainly white pinup

girls at the time.

Others criticized JET’s depiction of Black women.

Beauties of the Week were largely photographed in

bathing suits from 1959-1993. These centerfold features

were accompanied by a bio of the Beauty and her body

measurements. Critics grew concerned citing the

importance of Black beauty being visible but not being

based on objectification.

JET also came under fire along with the popular Essence

magazine for promoting colorist ideals. A 1955 issue

included an advertisement for Nadinola, a bleaching

cream. The ad depicted a light-skinned woman as the

center of men’s attention.

In a study conducted by Vanessa Hazell and Juanne

Clarke, it was concluded that JET and Essence magazine

between 2003 and 2004 still allowed Eurocentric and

white standards of beauty to be promoted through

their hair care ads. Many of these companies featured

models that were either white or adhering closely to

white standards of beauty.

In June 2014, JET released its last physical issue, opting

to move to fully digital. Two years later, Johnson

Publishing sold JET and its sister magazine Ebony.

Clear View Group, a Texas-based and Black-owned

equity firm, still owns both publications in 2022.

In 2021, Michele Ghee was appointed CEO of JET &

Ebony. In a Los Angeles Times feature, Ghee recalls the

lasting legacy of the brands and how instrumental they

were in the creation of the Black media blueprint. Ghee

plans to bring the publications back into their former

glory by tying on tried-and-true ways to new solutions.

Today JET can still be found on jetmag.com, producing

content for us and by us.

JET magazine has cemented its place in the history

of Black media as an influential giant. It gave voices

to artists that the industry forgot and news that the

mainstream ignored. With its many supporters and

creative staffing, hopefully we see the magazine fully

restored to its former glory: “Black like it never left.”














am writing this letter to pass on some advice that

I will, hopefully, help you successfully navigate undergraduate

life at the University of Alabama. The

points I will touch on are based on advice I wish

someone had given me prior to the fall of 1977 entering

my freshman year. There are so many topics that

come to mind but I’ll stick to the ones below.


An impressive GPA is the first indicator of a strong work

ethic. Also, your GPA is usually one the first things future

employers take note of to determine your potential for

success in their organization. The University of Alabama

will challenge you academically and it doesn’t get easy

as you advance from your freshman to your senior year.

At times it may feel like you’re in the ring with three

heavyweight boxing champs at the same time just trying

to survive. But the strength of will and determination to

stay up late at night and work on weekends to complete

assigned tasks will serve you well as an undergraduate

and in your professional career. Work hard and surround

yourself with high achievers. There are a number of

academic support resources available at the university.

Seek them out and utilize them to the fullest. Make it

a goal to become a permanent fixture on the Dean’s List.



Don’t hesitate to get involved. Join a fraternity or sorority,

sing in the choir, join the BSU, or any of the many other

organizations on campus. This is an opportunity to be a

part of a group and develop as a leader. As you advance

academically and professionally you will be asked to

participate in groups to solve problems and/or reach a

common goal. Gaining this experience early in your

academic career will arm you with the skills needed to be a

contributing member of the group and take on leadership

roles in any academic setting or organization. Some may

say this is too much to take on and maintain a high GPA.

But believe me you can do it by setting achievable goals

for yourselves and holding yourselves accountable for

accomplishing your goals. Later in your professional

lives the ability to multi-task under pressure will serve

you well. So don’t shy away from these challenges during

your undergraduate years. Embrace them and grow from

the experiences.


In my professional career mentors were responsible for

my greatest career advances. I was extremely shy as a

younger man so seasoned leaders took me under their


wings to ensure my success. I would advise you to be more

assertive and aggressive to ensure your academic success.

You don’t have to wait until you graduate to start the

mentoring process. Start now by surrounding yourselves

with high performing achievers in your peer group,

upperclassmen and alumni. Seek out those who have

walked the path you are now following to gain insight on

what will make you successful and the pitfalls to avoid.

There are resources on campus that support mentoring

so explore those avenues. Also, I know there are many

alums who would be more than willing to mentor young

students. The roadblocks you are experiencing now are

not new. They have frustrated others. Don’t hesitate to

seek guidance from others who previously overcame the

challenges facing you now.

This is the advice I wish I had received prior to my freshman

year. Although I had a successful career, I could have

achieved a lot more both academically and professionally

had I applied myself more while an undergraduate at the

University of Alabama. Good luck and Roll Tide.


Greg Floyd

Class of 1981




As an educator in the state of Alabama we are

blessed to be a part of the Teachers Retirement

System. We pay into our retirement plan and if

we switch schools or go into another school system the

money that we have put into our retirement plan stays

with us. Most job fields do not provide a benefit as nice as

that. They do, however, offer some form of a retirement

plan with different option and though I cannot suggest

you stay at a job long enough to be fully vested or reap

the benefits that they may offer I do highly suggest as a

newly young eager employee that you do your research on

retirement planning and not put it off.

I know at this age; retirement is not at the forefront of

your mind but, time is your best friend when it comes

to saving for your retirement. CNBC did a case study for

people who start saving for retirement at age 20.

Investing $100 per month will grow to more than

$160,000 when you are ready to retire in 47 years. At $500

a month, the same 20-year-old would retire with more

than $800,000 if they stuck to their saving. If you bump

that number up to $1,000 per month, your total will grow

to over $1.6 million for retirement.

$1.6 million dollar sounds nice, and you have the

opportunity right now to really set yourself up for a more

comfortable life when you get older. Allowing you to

not be forced to work so hard in your golden years. Take

control now so you can have control later. See the big

picture and Good Luck!

Larron White

Class of 1997





I reflect upon my life, here are three things I wish

I had been given at 22 years old.

• Mistakes are good

• Know and understand yourself

• Life is an obstacle course

Elbert Hubbard stated, “The greatest mistake a man

can make is being afraid of making one.” Mistakes in

life are lessons that provide you with opportunities for

personal growth and insight. In fact, I believe the keys to

a successful life must include your ability to learn from

your own mistakes and those of others. To do this you

must be willing to reflect often on your mishaps. Think

to yourself, what can I do differently next time? You need

to relive your experiences, not to shame yourself, but

as a way to avoid repeating them. Remember, you will

not always make the right decisions in your life, but you

should always make the best decisions based on what you

know and understand at the moment. Growth is on the

other side of your fear of failure.

Self-awareness is a must while going through life.

Develop the ability to understand and articulate those

things you will not tolerate. As the saying goes “If you

don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”

Whereas knowledge will only take you so far, genuineness

and sincerity are character traits that will win people

over when it counts the most. Society can be cruel but

remain true to yourself. Whenever you find yourself in

a situation where people do not have your best interest

in mind, be willing to cut ties and move on. You may ask,

how do I discern the intentions of others? Just listen!

You are more in tune than you think.

Life is an obstacle course. It’s filled with hurdles and

challenges designed to impede your progress. You will

be tested by employers, colleagues, and friends who,

at times, will cause you to question everything about

yourself. These experiences will make you stronger

when you are able to forgive, learn from them, and move

forward. Enjoy the special times you experience in each

of your relationships with people that matter. Even

though financial hardships or a divorce, put God first

and learn from the experience. Fortunately, you have the

choice to view every experience in life either negatively

or positively. I urge you to look at the positive with the

foresight that life is an obstacle course.

In closing, learn from your mistakes, live your life and be

a testimony for others, and treat everyone with respect

and dignity. By doing these things, you will be successful

in life.


Dr. Terry Lamar

Director of Equity and Educational Initiatives,

Hoover City Schools





Navigating college can be an overwhelming and

very involved experience for any student. Even

with the challenges you may encounter, it can

also be the greatest and most rewarding time of your

young adulthood.

As an African American student at a predominately white

institution, the challenge may seem to be even greater. As

a new student on campus, I must admit it was a culture

shock for me. Coming from a school system that was

predominantly black, it was an adjustment coming from

where you were in the overwhelming majority to a setting

where you are a minority. With the culture shock, it was

easy to become overwhelmed with the size and scope of

my new surroundings and fall behind.

As new and continuing students, the following points of

advice can place you on the path in making the most of

the collegiate experience.


Don’t go through your college experience on cruise

control, if you are struggling academically, mentally, or

any way please seek resources that are available to you to

keep you on your path to success.




You may have the urge to get involved everywhere and in

everything at Get on Board Day, but don’t let your over

eagerness consume and drown you. Try to focus on what

gives you the best opportunities to do good and effect at

least a little change in your corner of the earth.


Nurture relationships with those who encourage you,

challenge you and bring out the best you and reciprocate.

In the bustle of college life, it is easy to neglect these

connections and take them for granted. Take a moment to

slow down and experience the fullness of those positive




You are here to gain an education, but you are also here to

experience your first taste of adulthood and prepare your

minds to navigate an increasingly competitive world.

You are the dreams and legacy of Pollie, Autherine, Vivian

and James; you are the embodiment of their sacrifice. So,

take care of yourself so you may lift the students who

follow you and be a shining example to them continue

this rich and powerful legacy.



Class of 2003



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