Visual arts

The Vermont Cynic | Black History Month in Illustrations

An artistic representation can sometimes help us visualize and connect with history in ways that would not be possible from just reading text.

After research in the UVM Special Collections library, the Cynic staff illustrators portrayed several members of UVM Black alumni in ways that reflect their impacts on the University.

Abby Kaiser

The figure that I illustrated is H. Lawrence McCrorey, who was a social justice advocate who taught at UVM in the 1960s, according to a historical exhibit in the Davis Center titled “Celebrating Diverse Voices at UVM: Ten Black Experiences.”

When he came to teach at UVM through the connection of a friend, he knew that he wanted to do more than just teach. Instead he wanted to make an impact by fighting racism, and became politically involved in the University’s racial justice affairs, according to a February 4, 2021 UVM Today article.

According to the exhibit, he was only one out of two Black faculty at the time. I chose to depict him this way in my illustration because he did more than fight against racism. A big part of his personal life was spent as a jazz saxophonist, which shaped his legacy at UVM, according to the UVM Today article. -Abby Kaiser

Wenzdae Wendling

David Jamieson, ’92, was an advocate for racial justice and an artist who participated in the 1988 and 1991 takeovers of the president’s office in Waterman, according to a November 15, 2014 article from the Burlington Free Press

He sketched in an abstract style that reflected issues of race and sexuality; he is drawn in his own style with sketches in the background to reflect his drawings of the Waterman takeovers. According to the Burlington Free Press article, David died of AIDS in 1992, but his artwork still hangs in the Davis Center today. – Wenzdae Wendling

Emma Cathers

William Pickens III, ’58, was the first Black SGA president at UVM, according to an October 21, 2021 East Hampton Star article.

Pickens III played a role in protesting the tradition Kake Walk, a racist performance by fraternity brothers wearing blackface. Kake Walk began in the 1890s, running up until the Civil Rights movement, where it took voices like William Pickens III to confront the school’s decades of racism, according to a historical Davis Center exhibit titled, “Celebrating Diverse Voices at UVM: Ten Black Experiences.”

Iris Benson-Sulzer

Dalmas Taylor accepted the position of Provost at UVM in 1991, just months after students protested the lack of diversity on campus, according to a January 29, 1998 Washington Post article.

A highly respected scholar and administrator, Taylor gained a masters degree and a doctorate in psychology and went on to serve as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Wayne State, according to the article.

Taylor also spent 16 years at UMD, where he served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Research in the graduate school, and director of the Afro American Studies program, according to the Washington Post article. I chose relatively minimalist colors and background for this piece so that the focus would be his likeness and expression.

Ingrid Solsaa

Ernest Raymond Alexander, ’19, was a scholar who earned his bachelor’s from Fisk University and eventually completed his medical degree at the University of Vermont, according to an article processed in January, 1994 from the Fisk University Archives.

While at UVM, he was awarded “Honor Man in Medicine”. He was a prominent member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the board of trustees at Fisk University, the Abyssinian Baptist Church, YMCA, and National Urban League, according to an exhibit in the Davis Center titled, “Celebrating Diverse Voices at UVM: Ten Black Experiences.” -Ingrid Solsaa

Angelika Hillios

Jennifer Cover came to UVM in 1972 as a theater professor, according to a historical exhibit in the Davis Center titled “Celebrating Diverse Voices at UVM: Ten Black Experiences.”

She performed as Lady Macbeth and also directed her own play called “No Mo’ Jim Crow” which incited a year long Harlem Renaissance Symposium on campus. In 1983, Cover presented a one-woman show called “Still I Rise” that commemorated Black heritage through music and poetry, the exhibit stated. -Angelika Hillios

Nicole Bidol

As a student, Richard ‘Dick’ Dennis, ’57, played for the varsity basketball team and advocated for racial justice on campus, according to an exhibit in the Davis Center titled, “Celebrating Diverse Voices at UVM: Ten Black Experiences.”

A member of the Phi Sigma Delta fraternity, he denounced the UVM Kake Walk tradition and inspired his fraternity brothers to refuse blackface in solidarity. He later went on to become the first Black board of trustees member and chair at UVM, the exhibit stated. -Nicole Bidol

Izzy Pipa

Nicodemus ‘Nic’ McCollum, ’52, was the first Black editor-in-chief of the Vermont Cynic newspaper, according to an April 1952 Cynic article courtesy of the UVM Special Collections Library.

McCollum became editor-in-chief after moving up from rewrite editor to managing editor. He was 34 years old and had a daughter at the time, as well as several jobs to help pay his way through college, the article stated.

McCollum inspired me in many ways as I illustrated this piece, and I grew attached to the stories of his charisma cited in the 1952 Cynic article. I’m grateful to have been able to read about him, and hope that my illustration carries with it the passion McCollum had for this paper. -Izzy Pipa

Molly Parker

Crystal Malone, ’47, pledged to the previously all-white sorority Alpha Xi Delta in 1946, which led to national controversy, according to a March 5, 2021 article from the Washington Post

Instead of backing down from the negativity she faced, Malone stood her ground as a member of the sorority. She went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business and later died in February of 2021, the Washington Post article stated. -Molly Parker

Liz Coppes

dr. Dolores Sandoval served as a beloved faculty member and professor emerita at the University of Vermont, but her colorful career did not stop at that, according to an April 14, 2016 Seven Days VT article.

She also served on various women and minority-oriented commissions, worked as a consultant for issues regarding education and civil rights, and ran for office in the House of Representatives in both 1988 and 1990, among other accomplishments, according to the Seven Days VT article . -Liz Coppes

Sofia Gratton

Edna Hall Brown was the first Black woman to graduate from UVM in 1930, according to an April 30, 2021 UVM Today article.

She went on to teach physics and mathematics after graduating. The yellow rose resembles the DuBois Circle symbol, an organization commemorating the contributions of Black women to the women’s suffrage movement, where she was an active member for over sixty years, according to the article. -Sofia Gratton

Martha Hrdy

John Lewis was an American civil rights activist and congressman for Georgia’s fifth district, known for his work as a Big Six leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States, according to an August 28, 2003 NPR article.

according to an exhibit in the Davis Center titled, “Celebrating Diverse Voices at UVM: Ten Black Experiences,” he received his honorary diploma from the University of Vermont in 2007, where he spoke to the graduating class about the importance of building and sustaining an all-inclusive community .

Having had the honor of meeting John Lewis, I chose to represent him using a younger photo, as he inspired a younger generation of activists to continue his work. By incorporating green mountains and camellias, the official flower of his home state (Alabama), I intended to show the way his words and actions continue to uplift communities across the country, such as Burlington. -Martha Hrdy

Izzy Pipa

Milt Goggans, ’66, was a star basketball athlete who still holds several records in UVM athletics history, according to a June 29, 2018 UVM athletics article

Goggans was a starter on the varsity basketball team for three years, totaling 740 career rebounds and 843 career points. He remains one of only 28 members in the 500 point, 500 rebound club, the article stated.

Goggans was officially inducted to the UVM Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018, according to a September 8 2018 UVM Athletics article† Every detail I discovered about Goggans was exceedingly impressive and I was excited to be able to illustrate him for this series. -Izzy Pipa

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button