Black History at Simpson College highlighted in lecture


Amelia Schafer

Emili Radke presented a Zoom lecture on Black history at Simpson college Wednesday.

by Amelia Schafer, News Editor

Black history is an essential piece of Simpson’s history, highlighted by Wednesday’s Black History at Simpson lecture.

The lecture began with a brief timeline describing Black history at Simpson by the presenter, Emili Radke.

Events highlighted included: Betty Shabazz, the wife of the late Malcolm X, speaking at Simpson in 1974, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm speaking at Simpson in 1977 and the Kappa Gamma chapter of Phi Beta Sigma, a predominately Black fraternity founded at Howard University, opening its doors at Simpson in 1978.

In years past, Black student organizations have called for the diversification of teaching practices and educational programs as well as the hiring of Black educators.

During homecoming week, there used to be a Black king and queen nominated to symbolize “royalty for all seasons.”

Previous Black student organizations included the Organization of Black Students, the Concerned Black Students, and the Black Student Organization.

The event’s guest speakers included alumni such as Andre Thomas, Larry Johnson, Matt Jeter, Michael La Ronn, Maurio Coleman, and Steven A. Ramsey.

Each guest speaker shared stories of being uplifted while at Simpson, and how their time at the college shaped who they are today.

Speakers also provided attendees with advice on how to navigate the current political climate.

“Democracy is loud, it is chaotic, and it is messy,” Ramsey said. “Showing up at protests, going to protests, that’s awesome. I encourage you to learn the facets of your community by organizing.”

Holding this lecture is something that Radke had wanted to do since she was a student at Simpson in the early 2000s.  

“This is something that I had always wanted to do on campus even back when I was a student all those years ago,” Radke said. “Coming back to Simpson, I wanted to make sure that I learned my job being an admissions officer since this is my first career in higher ed and I wanted to reintroduce myself to the campus not necessarily going around and saying, ‘Hey I’m Emili, and I’m back,’ but just by learning how this campus has changed over the years and getting to know the students on the campus because this is a different generation.”

Radke says she was inspired to go forth with the event after speaking to students.

“After doing that, one thing that I really recognized is that a lot of the things that some of the students of color and the student body, in general, were wanting were things that we wanted back when I was here as well as when my father was here,” she said.

Radke was also inspired by the college’s strong Black alumni network.

“So, I really wanted to take a walk back in history and sharing some of those stories and experiences from our Black alumni. We have a really awesome Black alumni network a lot of our Black alumni; they are all over the country doing some amazing things for the communities that they are in now,” Radke said. “I really wanted an opportunity to share those stories, especially in a time like now. To really uplift black students and students of color and just give them hope that after you leave Simpson, you’re gonna be capable of so many different things because of some of the positive and negative experiences that you’ve had here on campus.”