U-CAN: Historical black college recruitment fair coming to Las Vegas
by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud
A bell tower stands strong and tall at the site where, in 1857, William Hooper Councill was sold into slavery. The significance of the bell tower far exceeds a commemoration of the platform, from which a man and his family were auctioned to the highest bidder.
The moment became a part of history as, while a crowd assessed his physical attributes and suitability for forced labor, Council absorbed his surroundings. He vowed to return someday and build a school.
Today, that bell tower is the centerpiece on the campus of Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU), where students gather annually to recognize its unique lineage. It’s all about tradition, and historic black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the Southern and Eastern regions of the United States possess a deep history. Their legacies have helped shape education in America, especially for those who warmly embrace the indispensable black college experience.
There are 105 HBCUs operating today, all devoted to providing a quality education to overwhelmingly majority black student bodies. They can be ideal locations for scholars who seek not only a competitive education, but also for a place that nurtures a heightened sense of self.
In 1988, educator Dr. Alan Rowe and his wife, Donna, decided to create a movement for black college awareness. Inspired their own son’s attendance at Jackson State University, they established the United College Action Network (U-CAN). “I realized that there was a void in California, as it related to knowing about black colleges and universities, when I took my son to Jackson State,” said Alan Rowe, a resident of Sacramento who served for more than a decade on a school board — just one highlight in 36 years of public service.
“As an educator and a person who had worked in schools, I realized that a lot of parents in my area didn’t know about how to get their children into college, how to access scholarships or receive financial aid,” he said. “After my personal investigation and research, I realized that black colleges were an option that people in California really didn’t know about. So my wife and I and a couple of others sat in my living room, and decided that something needed to be done to tell the story of black colleges and universities. To let the Western region … of the country know that there are places that our children can go to get a rich, quality education. I always tell people that my son left home as a boy to go to college, but came back a man. It changed him, but it also changed me.”
The mission coalesced into a movement to help prospective applicants visit HBCUs around the country, and later evolved into a series of Historically Black College Recruitment Fairs. Held in various California cities, they feature recruiters from more than 40 colleges and universities. At the request of a local youth advocate, the fair came to Las Vegas for the first time in 2011. “I received a call from coach Gene Tate, who is a well-known baseball coach in Las Vegas for the Junior Giants Team,” recalled Rowe. “He had also indicated that he knew Frank Winthrop, state president of the Black Student Unions (BSU). Coach Tate asked me if we could come to Las Vegas to do one of our college fairs. Initially, there was hesitation — because I didn’t think there were many black people in Las Vegas. I told him that I would do some investigation. I found that even though Las Vegas only has an African-American population of 8 percent, there were 49 area high schools … of which at least 25 high schools have a population of 200 to 1,000 African-American students.”
Rowe added: “So, we said we would invest in expanding into the Las Vegas area. It was a pleasure to be introduced to Dr. Linda Young, president of the Clark County School District, who connected us with the administration of the local NAACP’s educational committee. “We brought about 30 black colleges and university recruiters to Vegas. And in just two days, we saw 2,000 students and 222 were accepted to black colleges on the spot at the Vegas college fair last year.”
Ninety-eight of the Las Vegas students were offered scholarships valued at $2.9 million. This is all documented data that we received from the colleges who participated. All student application fees were waived, and we decided this year we want to do more in Vegas.”
The United College Action Network’s 13th annual Historically Black College Recruitment Fair, in conjunction with the Clark County School District and the Las Vegas NAACP, has been expanded to take place during four days. Beginning Sunday, Sept. 16, from 3-6 p.m., families are invited to attend the fair, held at the Pearson Community Center, 1625 West Carey Ave.
This free event will highlight more than 40 black college and university recruiters, many able to provide local students with opportunities for “on-the-spot” admission, scholarships and financial aid.
“The black college and university recruiters are very excited to come to Las Vegas again,” said Rowe. “The students we assist will join over 45,000 young people in the last 24 years who have been exposed to the educational opportunities at historic black colleges and universities. In our 24 years, 12,000 students have been accepted to historically black colleges and universities, and 6,000 have received scholarships valued at over $45 million. We don’t apologize for the fact that we are specialists. We work with HBCUs, and realize that not just any school can educate our children. It is not wrong for our children to go somewhere else for their higher education, but we know that they will get something special at an HBCU. Any school can educate your mind — but we think it is important to educate your morals, values and your spirit. It is a time honored tradition!”
Watch the video of Alan Stock from the show Eye on Vegas – on Vegas TV, talking with Dr. Audrey F. Manley, acting surgeon general from 1995-1997. She visits with Alan to talk a bit about her career and to promote ucangotocollege.org. Plus to tell everyone about their event coming up on September 16th.
click on the link to watch video http://www.vegastv.com/local-vibe/eye-on-vegas-with-alan-stock/eye-on-vegas-dr-audrey-f-manley/