“Blacks at Bradley” event celebrates tradition, history

As part of the Bradley University Black Alumni Alliance reunion, former Bradley history professor Arwin Smallwood returned to campus April 20 to speak to students and alumni about the accomplishments of black students at Bradley.

The event, called “Blacks at Bradley,” was hosted by Students United for Change a organization aimed to promote campus unity and build student leaders. The event was located at the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center and bout 25 students and alumni attended to learn about history and share Bradley experiences.

“It’s important to see the accomplishments of alumni in order to understand how their leadership impacted campus,” said senior dietetics major Jillian Harris.

Harris, along with senior English major Candice Richards and junior public relations major Montel Hardy, coordinated Smallwood’s return to campus.

“To know where you are going, you have to know where you’ve been,” Hardy said

Hardy said he helped plan the event by coordinating details with a graphic designer to make collages, organizing refreshments as well as other day-of-event tasks.

“The planning part was tough, but we had more than enough time to pull it off.” he said. “Candice did a great job establishing a working relationship with Reggie Bustinza so we could use the Alumni [Center] and Duane Zehr to get photos of Black Alumni by the decade.”

Smallwood spoke about the history of black alumni at Bradley from 1950 to the present and focused on several prominent black alumni who excelled not only on Bradley’s campus, but after graduation.

Smallwood taught at Bradley from 1995 to 2003 and is the former director of the African-American studies department.

During his time at Bradley, Smallwood, with the help of his students, gathered photographs and sifted through books to learn about the history of black students on campus. He published the work in a book, “Blacks at Bradley.”

Angell Campbell, ’02 graduate, attended the event. She is Smallwood’s former student and owns a copy of “Blacks at Bradley.”

She said it was good to see the students and alumni come together, as it doesn’t happen very often.

“It’s great being able to talk to [the students] about our shared experiences,” Campbell said.