Magazine Masthead

Longwood Multicultural News – Fall Semester 2023

Letter from C.H.A.N.G.E.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to the exciting launch of Longwood’s new publication that is dedicated to showcasing and celebrating diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion on Longwood’s campus and in the community. This platform is designed to bring you a view of the various multicultural events, activities, programs, initiatives, and voices that are actively working towards creating a more inclusive and equitable world. In this inaugural issue of the quarterly publication, we highlight the new Beginning Our New Direction (BOND) new student transition program, The Right to Read event promoting the importance of literacy, and the diverse perspectives presented by authors from the Virginia Children’s Book Festival.

In a rapidly changing and interconnected world, recognizing and championing diversity and inclusivity is crucial. Our publication will serve as a powerful resource to keep you informed about the latest developments and initiatives that are driving positive change in these important areas. Recently, many of us have been challenged to examine our beliefs and values as we were confronted with ongoing racial and social injustices. We are thankful for the members of the Longwood community who provided opportunities for us to come together, listen, and learn from multiple perspectives and experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Our community has benefited from genuine conversations, thought-provoking programs and relevant resources. The C.H.A.N.G.E. (Community, Humanity, Allyship, Networking, Grace, and Equity) multicultural student council has been working collectively with faculty, staff, and administration to ensure that the institutional practices and policies reflect a community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
Through our articles, interviews, features, and more, we aim to amplify the voices and stories that often go unheard. We will shed light on the innovative programs and activities that are addressing issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in a variety of areas on campus, including academic affairs, student affairs, athletics, alumni relations, advancement, and in the community.

We invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and engagement. Together, we can contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society. Stay tuned for thought-provoking content, inspiring stories, and opportunities to get involved.

Thank you for being a part of our community, and we look forward to sharing this important journey with you.

~Anabelle Diaz


Q&A with Author Lamar Giles, co-founder of We Need Diverse Books

By Amani Hinton

For nine of the past ten years, author Lamar Giles, an award-winning author of young adult novels, has come to Longwood as part of the three-day Virginia Children’s Book Festival, which takes place each October.
Giles is also a co-founder of the We Need Diverse Books organization, a national advocacy group that promotes the publishing of books by diverse authors and illustrators. He is also a popular author of young adult thrillers like The Getaway and Fake ID. In 2018, he was a judge for the National Book Awards. He was born in Hopewell and now lives in Harrisonburg with his wife and daughter.

Giles was on campus for the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Children’s Book Festival in October, and we asked him some questions about his work.

What were your sessions like this year at the Virginia Children’s Book Festival?

Wonderful. I got to talk about some of my favorite things: Star Wars, Comic Books, and TV/Film. I had great turnouts at all the sessions, and the students had awesome and relevant questions. It really doesn’t get better than that.

You’ve come to Longwood almost every year for ten years now. Throughout your experience with the VCBF, what is something that influences you to continue coming back?

There are several reasons I return every year. One of them is that it’s fun, of course. But also it’s clear the festival is painstakingly organized and I want to do my part in helping Juanita Giles (no relation) and everyone else involved because I’m a Virginian. I’ve lived here my whole life. Nothing like the VCBF existed when I was growing up, and it would’ve meant so much to me. Now that it does exist, I gotta lend a hand. It’s only right.

I’ve also gotten to see them live out their mission in a way that’s different from most other book festivals. There’s a particular emphasis they put on bringing in authors with a lot of different perspectives like me, Pablo Cartaya, Sonia Patel, Nic Stone, Jackie Woodson, Meg Medina, and tons of others. That’s really important because when you’re in front of these kids, you’re looking at a lot of different kids from different backgrounds, and they should be able to see themselves in the books they read.

How much of an impact do you think the VCBF has on these students?

I don’t think you can measure the impact it has on students. I always say I never met an actual writer until I was 19 years old. Had I seen the sort of talent the VCBF brings in at the age these students are being exposed to them, who knows how much of a boost that would’ve given me. Certainly, every student who comes may not want to be a writer, illustrator, or be a part of the arts, but just seeing real people exploring a vast array of creative careers lets them know we’re all just people and they can pursue anything because they’ve been in the same room with folks who have chased, and caught, their dreams.

What is some information you could give us on We Need Diverse Books?

I’d have to encourage you to visit for the most up to date information. I was a founding member in 2014, and worked closely with the organization until 2018, when I needed to focus time on my own writing. But I’m proud of the work we did together and that they continue to do to promote diverse authors and illustrators and to tell stories that frankly haven’t been told before.

Why is it important that books don’t get banned?

Book banning has never been a part of good or productive history. It’s what bad people do when they think it’s their call to decide what everyone should think. So it’s important that books don’t get banned because every reader should have the opportunity to access information they want and need. Period.

BOND: A Successful Pilot Year

Last summer, Madeline Fernandez-Carias was like a lot of freshman college students: equal parts anxious and excited about moving into a residence hall and starting life at a different place.

But Madeline, a biology/pre-med major from Bristow, was part of a new program at Longwood that was designed to lessen the anxiety and introduce her to different places and people on campus before classes started.

BOND – Beginning Our New Direction – is a four-day program for new Longwood students from traditionally and historically underrepresented and underserved communities. The four days lead naturally into New Lancer Days, the college transition program that all new Longwood students participate in before classes start. BOND organizers worked with a cohort of 30 students in this pilot year and plan to expand the program next year and beyond.

“It was a really valuable four days,” said Fernandez-Carias. “I got to meet amazing people, including my BOND mentor. I love her. She’s stuck with me until she graduates–she’s always checking in with me to see how I’m doing. And I got to meet friends who I formed an instant connection with. It’s honestly a community that you can relax in.”

The program appealed to Fernandez-Carias as a person of color about to matriculate in a predominantly white institution. During the four-day program, she found a place on campus that felt like a “home away from home.”

“The N.H. Scott Center is my place on campus,” she said. “I’m always there between or after classes, hanging out, listening to music, doing homework, all kinds of stuff. It feels like home. The people in N.H. Scott are really wise and can help you and want to help you in any circumstance you are in.”

Madeline Fernandez-Carias (left) and Anabelle Diaz (middle)

The four-day program started with a day of community building and an introduction to key buildings and landmarks on campus with activities like a scavenger hunt, where groups were asked to navigate their way across campus.

In subsequent days, they were introduced to faculty and staff from across campus who are there to support students both academically and personally. Students in the BOND program met with student success and writing center staff, and representatives from information technology services, Title IX, accessibility, campus recreation, campus engagement and others.

They ended the program by setting goals and mapping their success in college with faculty and staff members from across the university. Each busy day ended with some well-earned social time where students got to know each other over a movie or a late-night meal.

“We put together the program as a pre-New Lancer Days experience because we’ve heard from several students over the last few years about struggles they had transitioning to college,” said Jonathan Page, assistant dean of multicultural affairs and Title VI coordinator at Longwood. “We wanted to really ease that transition for students from historically underrepresented communities and, in particular, BIPOC communities. We’re working to help them build connections, build a community and have an understanding of what resources they have at their disposal.”

The Right to Read: An Important Conversation

By Anabelle Diaz

This fall, Dr. Alecia Blackwood, visiting assistant professor of elementary education, led a screening of the film “The Right to Read” and led a panel discussion after the screening with people working against banning books across the state.

Increasingly, books with diverse characters and themes like LGBTQ+, teenage sexuality, and books by diverse authors are being challenged and banned across the country. This panel discussed how to address that ongoing phenomenon.

Blackwood and other professors from the College of Education organized the event. It became possible with the invaluable support of Barbara Patterson Oden from Collaborative Classroom. When Dr. Blackwood initially approached Barbara about bringing this screening to Farmville, she wholeheartedly embraced the idea with a resounding “YES!” With the collaborative efforts of Collaborative Classroom, the Moton Museum, and professors from the College of Education, we could offer this film screening free of charge to the Prince Edward community.

We asked Dr. Blackwood about the Right to Read program.

Is this the first time this event has happened? If not, how long has it been?

This event marks the inaugural occurrence of “The Right to Read” in Farmville, VA. However, the documentary has made its rounds nationwide, being screened at various community agencies and universities. You can find more details about its nationwide screenings on its website: The Right to Read Film.

What is the “Right to Read” movie about for those who haven’t seen it?

“The Right to Read” documentary, produced by LeVar Burton, the former host of the popular PBS TV show Reading Rainbow. The Right to Read is a winning documentary. This film shares the stories of an NAACP activist, a teacher, and two American families(one from the Virginia Beach area) who fight to provide our youngest generation with the most foundational indicator of life-long success: the ability to read.

How much impact did this event have on community members?

While specific data on the event’s impact within the community is not available, we hope that bringing this screening to families raises awareness about literacy issues in the community and stimulates discussions on collective solutions to these challenges.

What is something you would like people to remember about this event to make them keep coming back?

We hope this event serves as an inspiration, a connection point, and a motivation for attendees to redouble their efforts in ensuring that every child in Virginia has access to evidence-based literacy resources and instruction. We aim for this event to bridge informational gaps and reach community members and key stakeholders.

The event attracted a diverse audience, including Longwood pre-service teachers, professors, local teachers, community elders, Dr. Barbara A. Johnson, Superintendent of Region 8, and Megan L. Clark, Prince Edward Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Far too often, policy changes occur at a higher level without adequate information dissemination to key community stakeholders.


About The Panelists

Teresa O. Vance, Principal of Prince Edward Elementary School.
Recently received a state award for improving literacy at the school through the implementation of Science of Reading approaches. This recognition highlights the importance of literacy in our educational system.

Megan Newcomb, Youth Services Librarian at Farmville Public Library.
Has actively promoted literacy in our community through library programs and services.

Jill Ahmad, Assistant Director of Marketing and Community Engagement at the Moton Museum.
Brings a unique perspective on the role of museums in fostering literacy and education.

Juanita Giles, Executive Director of the Virginia Children’s Book Festival.
Has dedicated her career to promoting literacy among young readers and authors.

Leah Brown, Associate Director for Education and Collections at the Leah Brown Museum.

Has been instrumental in developing educational programs that emphasize the importance of literacy in understanding history and culture.

Nov. 11
Alpha Phi Alpha Fall 2023 Neophyte Show
7:06pm, In between Johns and Moss

Nov. 11
Longwood Homecoming Tailgate
10am – 2pm, Campus

Nov. 15
Insight to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
6pm, Allen 101

Nov. 19
Hispanic Latino Association De-stress Event
1-3pm, N.H. Scott

Jan 15
MLK Service Day
Time & Location TBD

Jan. 19
Harlem Nights
Time TBD, Moton Museum

Feb. 10
Black Student Association Ball
Theme: Black Excellence
Time & Location TBD

Regular Meetings

Longwood Native Students Organization

Social Media: 
Instagram & Tiktok: @lunativestudentsorg

When: Biweekly on Mondays at 5:30pm
Where: N.H. Scott

B.A.S.I.C. Gospel Choir

Social Media
Instagram: Basicgospelchoir

Meetings: Mondays and Wedensdays from 7:00-9:00 P.M. In Wygal 106

Black Student Association

Social Media
Instagram: @Longwood_bsa

Meetings: Biweekly on Thursdays at 4:00 PM in N.P. Miller, Lankford

Asian Student Involvement Association

Social Media
Instagram: @longwood_asia

Biweekly on Mondays at 7pm

Hispanic Latino Association

Social Media
Instagram: @hla_longwood

Meetings: Biweekly meetings, every other Wednesday in N. H. Scott, Upchurch 3rd floor from 5:30-6:30pm 

True Blue Stomp & Shake

Social Media: 
Instagram & Tiktok: @trueblue_lu

Meetings: Every Tuesday and Thursday from 5PM-8PM 
Location: Pierson Hall- MAC Gym (1st Floor, Right Back Hall)

Longwood Muslim Student Association

Social Media: Instagram: @longwood_msa

Meetings: Biweekly meetings, every other Thursday in N. H. Scott, Upchurch 3rd floor from 6.00-7.00pm 

Longwood PRIDE

Social Media: Instagram: @pride_longwood
Meetings: Weekly meetings, every Wednesday in Chichester G12 at 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM. 

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)

Social Media: Instagram: @longwoodnphc