news-category: Multicultural Affairs

Gardner-Webb Campus Celebrates Black History Month with Several Programs

black history month graphic

Events Follow 2022 National Theme: Black Health and Wellness

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Gardner-Webb University campus is celebrating Black History Month with a variety of programs in February. The 2022 National Theme: Black Health and Wellness will also be the focus of GWU programs, including two film showings and a panel discussion.

Lorell Gordon
Dr. Lorell Gordon

Dr. Lorell Gordon, GWU assistant professor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, said the national theme brings awareness to the multi-layered health concerns for Black Americans. “There are concerns about prevalent health conditions such as, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and depression,” she noted. “Access to adequate healthcare is an additional complexity along with having the trust and rapport for an effective working relationship between the patient and healthcare provider. Preventative practices in the Black community include healthy eating habits, regular exercise and physical health check-ups. Additionally, addressing the stigmas about mental health and wellness can assist in reducing barriers to seek appropriate treatment.”

The GWU College of Health Sciences and the Gayle Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies is sponsoring one of the movies that will be shown: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” This 2017 movie starring Oprah Winfrey is based on a 2010 book by the same title written by Rebecca Skloot, said Dr. Sydney K. Brown, dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “This book has been studied in the past at GWU as a first year book,” Brown stated. “In 1951, cancerous cells from Henrietta Lacks led to breakthroughs that changed the face of medicine forever. Aided by writer Rebecca Skloot, Deborah Lacks embarks on a quest to learn about the mother she never knew.”

A discussion of the ongoing use of HeLa cells in medical research and the shifts in biomedical research will take place following the movie.

A page from the Green Bethel Baptist Church minute books

The second movie, sponsored by The Noel Center for Disabilities Resources and the American Sign Language (ASL) Department, is “Signing Black in America Documentary.” This is the first documentary about Black ASL: the unique dialect of American Sign Language (ASL) that developed within historically segregated African American Deaf communities. Different uses of space, hand use, directional movement, and facial expression are ways that Black ASL distinguishes itself as a vibrant dialect of ASL. The African American Deaf community is now embracing their unique variety as a symbol of solidarity and a vital part of their identity. After the screening, senior ASL major Javonda Adams, who has researched Black ASL in America, will lead a discussion.

Also during the month, the large gallery in Dover Library will have a display featuring the Green Bethel Baptist Church and former Green Bethel School. The Green Bethel School was initially founded by the church and during the 1930s received funding as one of the Rosenwald Schools in Cleveland County. The exhibit will feature two interactive panels where students can practice transcribing handwritten church history documents and locating the original sites of the Rosenwald Schools. Conceived in the 1910s by black educator Booker T. Washington and his Tuskegee Institute staff, the Rosenwald program represented a massive effort to improve black rural schooling in the South through public-private partnership. The name came from philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Rosenwald offered matching grants to rural communities interested in building black schools.

Gardner-Webb Black History Month Programs

Following is a list of activities scheduled for this month:

Juan Cherry
  • Through Feb. 28 – Green Bethel Baptist Church and School exhibit in Dover Library.
  • Thursday, Feb. 3 – 3:30 to 5 p.m., Table Talk: Wellness Resources, Tucker Student Center, First Floor; sponsored by: Counseling Services.
  • Monday, Feb. 7 – 7 p.m., Additional Dimensions program featuring the Emanuel Documentary that powerfully weaves the history of race relations in Charleston, S.C., the significance and impact of Mother Emanuel Church, and the hope that emerges in the aftermath of the shooting that killed nine innocent church members.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 8 – 9:25 a.m., Dimensions with Jeff Ross, community engagement and corporate responsibility manager for Atrium Health in the west market, which includes Cleveland, Rutherford, Gaston and Lincoln counties.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 9 – 2 to 4 p.m., A Slice of History: Trivia and Free Pizza, Tucker Student Center Lobby; sponsored by: Student Engagement.
  • Feb. 10 – 9:25 a.m., The Martin Luther King Jr. Day emphasis with guest speaker Juan Cherry. Cherry will also talk about iBelong, a new mentoring initiative for minority males offered by the University’s Student Success Division. The event will be in Stewart Hall, Tucker Student Center. Cherry, of Cleveland County, N.C., is a GWU alumnus and a high school counselor at Shelby; pastor of New Creation Christian Center; and founder of Wired for Success Communications and Consulting.
Donnie Thurman
  • Thursday, Feb. 17 – 6 p.m., “Signing Black in America” documentary, Spectrum Theatre in the Tucker Student Center; sponsored by: The Noel Center for Disabilities Resources and the ASL Department.
  • Saturday, Feb. 19 – 10 a.m., Join the City of Shelby for the unveiling ceremony of the Shelby Civil Rights Trail Marker. The sign will be unveiled in front of Buffalo Creek Gallery on Warren Street, formerly Smith’s Drug Store, where one of the sit-ins took place on Feb. 18, 1960. A ceremony will take place immediately following on the Warren Street side of the Court Square on the lawn. More details here.
  • Saturday, Feb. 19 – 2:30 p.m., Viewing of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” Spectrum Theatre in the Tucker Student Center; sponsored by: The College of Health Sciences and the Gayle Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies.
  • Thursday, Feb. 24 – 4 p.m., Varied Perspectives on Black Health and Wellness, featuring GWU alumni and faculty, College of Health Sciences, Room 261 and on Zoom 574 097 1067; sponsored by the College of Health Sciences and the Gayle Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies. Panelists include:
    • Kimberly Williams-Thompson is an instructor with the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program in the GWU School of Psychological Sciences and Counselor Education. She joined the Gardner-Webb University community as a student and continued to serve in the roles of adjunct professor, counseling services staff, and now as a full-time instructor. Kimberly has also worked as a professional mental health counselor in various settings for over 10 years. She continues to reside in Cleveland County where she enjoys being able to spend time with her family and friends.
    • Juan L. Cherry completed his undergraduate work at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C., and his graduate work at Gardner-Webb. He is employed with Cleveland County Schools as a high school counselor. Cherry has traveled the country facilitating workshops that encourage and empower people to be the best versions of themselves. He is the founder and senior pastor of New Creation Christian Center, MAN II Man Inc., a male mentoring initiative, and Wired For Success Communications & Consulting. He is the author of the MAN II Man curriculum, “Wired For Success,” “So You Want To Be a Mentor” and the recently published “Intentional Design.” He is the creator of BowTime, weekly empowerment videos designed to motivate people to go after the life God intended. Cherry and his wife, Annette, live in Shelby. They have two children, Terrell, a former soldier, and Kristen, who is studying at UNC-Greensboro. They also have a daughter-in-law and three granddaughters.
    • Dr. DeAndre Howard, Dean of Community Wellness, Spartanburg Methodist College. He is a student affairs professional with over 13 years of experience in the field. In his role, he sits on the President’s Cabinet and provides oversight the following areas of campus: Community Life (Residence Life & Student Conduct), Campus Health & Wellness, Counseling Services, Accessibility Resources, Campus Safety & Security, Title IX & Equal Opportunity and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Howard also serves as an adjunct faculty member for the Department of Criminal Justice at Spartanburg Methodist College. He is a first-generation college student and earned his Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Gardner-Webb in 2018.  He is proud to have an opportunity to engage within the bulldog community during a month that means so much to so many.  
    • Takeysha Foster, Assistant Nurse Manager for Pavilion 4 at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Her nursing background includes pediatrics, cardiac and critical care. Foster is also a clinical nursing instructor for GWU. She is married and the mother of four children, ages 14, 10, 5, and 2. 
    • LaDonna Clark is assistant professor, principal faculty in the GWU Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Program. Most recently, she was employed as a PA with CaroMont Endocrinology Associates in Gastonia, N.C. From 2011 to 2014, she was a PA with Shelby Family Practice in Boiling Springs. She also worked as a PA from 2009 to 2011 at Grace Medical Clinic in Charlotte, N.C. She received her Doctor of Medical Science from the University of Lynchburg (Va.) in January 2021. She earned her Master of Health Science and PA Certification in 2009 from Duke University in Durham, N.C., and received her Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science with honors in May 2006 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her personal relationship with Christ and quality time with her family are very important to her. She also enjoys activities related to fitness and sports, traveling, interior design, writing children’s books, and encouraging young people to dream big.
    • Chavonne Good, a student in Hunt School of Nursing, currently teaches as faculty for the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg.  As a registered nurse for over 20 years with most of her early nursing career in neonatal and obstetrical nursing, Good also has an intense passion for education surrounding women’s health. She is currently completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice – Leadership degree at Gardner-Webb in the Hunt School of Nursing with her project topic focusing on the at-risk population of Black women and their health disparities related to stress. Upon completion of her DNP, Good plans to continue teaching but also hopes to open a non-profit center and home for women needing temporary support through life’s challenges.   
  • Thursday, Feb. 24 – 8 p.m., Open Mic Night hosted by GWU alumnus Donnie Thurman, vice president of Human Resources of Holy Angels Inc.; sponsored by Student Engagement and Student Government Association.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 days prior to event. Please call (704) 406-4253 or email [email protected] with your request.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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