Friday, August 26, 2011

A Big Week for AALCI

Cherrelle Denwiddie & Alysha Griffin reading Hughes at the AALCI Institute, June 2010
Turns out that this was an important week for AALCI. I heard from two of the students from our first class (2010) of fellows -- Alysha Griffin and Cherrelle Denwiddie -- who just completed their first week of graduate courses.

Alysha is at the University of Kansas, and Cherrelle is at Howard University. Their acceptance and now start at the programs are another development in the dreams that our founder/director Joycelyn Moody had when she envisioned the Institute.

Of course, we cannot take full credit for Alysha's and Cherrelle's achievements. They were outstanding young scholars already when we met them. Cherrelle was then a student at Fisk, where she was an active leader and cultural worker on her campus. Alysha was a student at Spelman College, where, among other things, she worked with "the" Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, a wonderful scholar-guidance machine. Both Alysha and Cherrelle were also UNCF/Mellon Fellows. So, in other words, they were already moving forward in progressive ways.

But AALCI, well, we still "laid our hands" on these two up and coming young scholars. Alysha and Cherrelle were involved from day one with our activities, being shaped by the Institute and also helping to shape it in important ways. I have all kinds of wonderful memories of the two young sister-scholars engaging in discussions with their fellow Institute fellows and with Moody on topics related to black culture, artistic and humanities projects, and the possibilities of becoming college professors and literary scholars.

Oh, and interestingly enough, one of our guest speakers last year was Dana Williams, who chairs the English program at Howard University. Williams and Cherrelle met  at our Institute, and now Cherrelle is there in D.C. Prof. Moody earned her Ph.D. at the University of Kansas, and now, Alysha is there. Funny how small the world is.

It was a year ago now, but I have this distinct memory of sitting on a park bench with Alysha and Cherrelle in Washington Square Park in New York City and talking about how someday they would start graduate school. On that same day, they teamed up to compete against one of the chess masters in the park.

Alysha & Cherrelle teaming up against a chess master in NYC

I took a couple of photos of them playing chess that day thinking that it was a good moment of thoughtful young sister-scholars involved with AALCI making moves. That photo and thought came to mind today as I realized that they were continuing their journeys in graduate programs. It was a big and good week for AALCI.