As local universities work to support diverse student and employee populations, Black History Month provides an opportunity to showcase progress. KACU’s Dana Glover revisits Hardin-Simmons, McMurry and Abilene Christian Universities to find out what’s been happening since the fall semester push to address racial tension and improve cultural awareness.
Universities are sending out detailed health and safety protocols for the spring semester. That includes updating COVID-19 dashboards that were suspended at the end of the fall semester for schools in Abilene. McMurry University is also pushing the start of classes back one week and canceling Spring Break. McMurry, like many universities in the region, usually starts the spring semester the second week of January. But over the break university officials decided to move the start back to January 19th.
As we wrap up our coverage of the candidates on the ballot in Taylor County, we are taking a look at the contests for Place 3 and Place 4 in Abilene’s City Council. One incumbent faces two challengers, while the other is unopposed.
Anthony Williams was elected in 2016, and is the first Black mayor of Abilene. In this election year he has faced the challenge of leading through a time of increased racial tension, a global health pandemic, as well as surviving his own bout with COVID-19. Williams' campaign is focused on bringing the Abilene community together. But he has faced harsh criticism from his opponent Cynthia Alvidrez.
The racial reckoning after George Floyd’s death has sparked change across the country including at some high profile universities in the Lone Star State. At Texas A&M this summer, black students sharedtheirstories of racism on campus. A&M leaders responded by committing to a race relations task force, a large scholarship fund to support diversity and a commission to evaluate statues and monuments on campus. Some students are still calling for the school to remove a statue of Sullivan Ross, a confederate general.
The racial reckoning following police killing several unarmed black people this summer has caused some institutions to take a hard look inward. Street murals supporting “Black Lives Matter” have been painted across the U.S. Corporate policy statements have changed. Even the NFL retracted their own stance discouraging players from protesting against police brutality and encouraged members of the league to speak out against racial injustice.
The racial reckoning since George Floyd’s death has made many institutions, individuals, businesses and local governments take a hard look at how they do things. Statues honoring Confederate figures have been removed. Products, like Aunt Jemima, re-branded.
Higher education is also making changes. Take UT Austin, for example. After calls to address racism on campus, the university announced it would add statues honoring Civil Rights leaders, and rename some public spaces. And that movement extends beyond Texas’s flagship university.