Published: February 25, 2016
The University honored its first African American graduate, Louis Stanley Brown, by dedicating a building to him Feb. 18. According to the Scranton Times-Tribune, this is one of the few University buildings not named after a donor or a Jesuit. This is the first building named after a person of color.
“It means inclusion,” international language business senior Sybil Doleyres said. “It means that The University honors students of all genders, races and ethnicities.”
Louis Stanley Brown Hall was acquired by The University in 2012, then known as the Ad-Lin building. It sits behind Leahy Hall, at Adams Avenue and Linden Street.
Brown was born in 1902 in the Pine Brook section of Scranton and graduated postsecondary school in 1919 earning a commercial degree from St. Thomas College, the predecessor to The University. Although Brown earned a college degree, it has been reported that he only found employment as a manual laborer.
Doleyres was in attendance during last Thursday’s dedication ceremony held at Brown Hall, which featured a variety of guest speakers, among them keynote speaker Yohuru Williams, Ph.D., class of 1993.
Williams was ecstatic that his alma mater re-named a building after the first African American graduate. “…so for my University to be committing a building to recommit itself to its values,” Williams said in a heartfelt speech. “We’re saying that in a positive and public way that black lives matter. That means something to me, it should mean something to us as a community.” The audience responded in resounding applause.
Michael Allison, Ph.D., coordinator of Education for Justice and chairperson of the political science department, also spoke at the building dedication Thursday about what values The University should instill in its students.
“We owe it to our students to ensure that they are prepared to identify injustice in all of its forms and to be able to take concrete steps in pursuit of creative solutions,” Allison said.
Allison recognizes that the campus, in addition to society, is improving in terms of race relations but still has ways that it can improve as well.
In the last few years, race relations at the national level have appeared to deteriorate.
He said that more conversations about race issues are needed.
“I’d like to think at The University, like elsewhere in the country, we’re becoming much more aware about many of the obstacles that remain towards creating a more just campus and society … ” he said.
“There are often clear signs of overt racism that prevent individuals from exercising their full economic and political rights…” Allison continued. “…It’s not obvious to people that there’s a problem or that the problem is not just socioeconomic or just gender based, but there’s a racial component as well.”
In 120 years of existence, Brown Hall has been used for various services ranging from a candy shop to a law firm. Today it is home to The University’s enrollment management and other administrative offices. Additionally, it holds a hair salon independently operating of The University.
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