Alyssa Wilson ~ Editor-in-Chief
The weekend kicks off on Sept. 23 to Sept. 25 and will include many different opportunities and activities for Black alumni and all students to network and engage with each other.
The Society was established by Epps and several of her Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters in the early 2000s after a previous student was turned down by the Alumni Board when presenting the idea of a Black affinity group.
Epps attended James Madison University for graduate school and was motivated to establish the Society after discovering JMU’s dedication to their Black alumni.
“My inspiration were the connections made around its Black alumni around homecoming. The institution supported its Black alumni and efforts to fundraise for scholarships, create meaningful programs and opportunities to connect at homecoming and other times throughout the year,” Epps said.
In fact, most Universities in the United States have a Black alumni weekend that is seperate from Homecoming.
Gibson is another one of the key players in Black alumni weekend and an active member of the Society.
Lynchburg was always the place, but we still felt connected to each other without Lynchburg,” Gibson said.
Gibson expressed that as a Black student at a predominantly white institution it was harder to feel a connection to the University as a home, but rather a place that merely connected her to other Black students and students of color.
In addition to networking between students and alumni, Gibson and Epps hope that Black alumni weekend will help current Black students and other students of color to see that they are not alone with the experience of going to a PWI.
Epps said, “This weekend is beneficial to alumni but it is truly a benefit to students—especially Black students who (still in 2022) face unique challenges because of their skin color. Alumni want to know about their Lynchburg experience and want to ensure we work with the University to help meet their unique needs…and we want to show them that we support them, identify with their struggles, and are poised to help them excel at Lynchburg and in life.”
Black alumni weekend will focus on a variety of events for both alum and students, and opportunities for the two groups to come together as well.
The first day will kick off with a roundtable discussion and a student/alumni mixer where students are given the opportunity to network with alum. Saturday includes a host of events, culminating with an Alumni/Student Gala.
Events continue into Sunday and all events are free for students to attend as long as they register at this link.
“If you care about your present and your future, you should plan to attend. Who knows when or if this will ever happen again,” Epps said.