Today’s post was written by Jaida Macklin, a senior English major with a theatre arts and African American studies minor and a library student ambassador.
The first thing that stands out about the event upon arrival is the audience — an assembly of people from all backgrounds crowd into the Von der Ahe suite. They chat and mingle with a vibrancy that’s unlike the tepidness that’s common at the beginning of the week. They quiet down once Carmen Walker, a senior Recording arts major and AFAM minor, approaches the mic, greeting everyone with a beaming smile.
She introduces us to our speaker, Stefan Bradley, emphasizing his life ambition to personally teach and inspire young adults as a mentor who’s worked in a variety of locations including being there for the aftermath of the tragic Ferguson and St. Louis incidents. We learn about him being enthusiastic about engaging in discussions surrounding civil rights of justice in order to be a voice of the community.
His newly released book, Upending the Ivory Tower: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Ivy League, concentrates on the legacy that Black students have left in Ivy League universities around North America, and the impact that has had on civil rights movements today such as #BlackLivesMatter and more.
As he takes the front, Bradley begins by requesting permission to speak from the elders, a cultural tradition in the Black community to pay respect to those who have come before us. He then spends the next few moments thanking those who have helped him along this journey, inspired him, and guided him from fellow faculty members to students to people who only showed up tonight for extra credit.
“I love Dr. Bradley, he’s a really good professor so I wanted to support him. I’ve been to a handful of events before, plus, I used to minor in AFAM.” Senior Fatima Beck said, “A critical analysis of academia from a Black man whose in it. I want to continue to hear his opinion and experiences.”
Bradley’s warm and engaging tone has the same effect as a witch’s spell in that it has an immediate tranquilizing, yet enraptured effect on the people around him. Laughter bubbles from the crowd every few minutes, the audible responses to Bradley’s quips can be heard throughout the hall. However, it doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the topics that he brings up and there’s a solemness adhered to as he delves into detail about the night that Mike Brown was senselessly murdered or the lawful discrimination Black students faced at school.
Charlye Sweeney, a senior communications major, said “This was very informative, I didn’t know much about student’s involvement and impact in the Ivy League. I’ve realized that the revolution can and will happen again when we’re motivated and challenged.”
He emphasizes how great it is to be at this institution’s library which prioritizes it’s goal to facilitate knowledge at all times with anyone who walks through our door unlike a time he visited an ‘esteemed’ location only to be kicked out for being an “outsider”. He had gone to the library as part of research for his novel and even though he wasn’t able to utilize the resource, he still learned a valuable lesson about how certain bodies are certainly not prioritized as much as others.
Bradley applies this to the context of Ivy Leagues and how despite the policing of Black bodies in these spaces, they continue to pave the way for change in the halls as well as outside in the streets. He uses these stories to inspire students and budding activists today as well as to create dialogue in this institution about the importance of culturally “safe” spaces and how to better support our Black and brown students at LMU.
“He was very well spoken, but a part of me thought he might have been censoring himself for the sake of others. I wish he had more time to speak. Also, I’m realizing that we have come so far, but still have so much to do in terms of higher education,” says senior screenwriting major Jalyn Eaton.
The event was more than successful with an incredible turn out. Many of the audience members said they would return for another session and expressed wishes for Bradley to speak at more of them.
On that note, African American Studies professor Darniese Martin says what stands out to her, “The courage of the few to overcome what seems impossible…”