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Berea College continuing to play major role in social justice reform

Posted: 10:02 PM, Feb 26, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-28 04:46:45-05
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BEREA, Ky. (LEX 18) — In February we celebrate Black History Month and it's due in large part to the efforts of Carter G. Woodson.

Woodson graduated from Berea College in the early 1900s and later launched America's first "Negro History Week," which eventually transformed into what we now know as "Black History Month."

So at Berea College, which is the first co-ed and interracial college in the south, teaching the accomplishments of African-American's is crucial to their curriculum.

"For Berea to be founded at a time that Kentucky was a slave state with the expressed goal of being interracial and co-educational, that was not only huge but has continued to be the driving force of everything Berea does," said the director of Berea's Woodson Center, Dr. Jessica Klanderud.

Berea has always been very active in social reform, even sending students to marches during the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1900s. Klanderud says it's important that they teach their current students to always be leaders in social justice reform.

That ideal is a founding pillar of the college, since they offer education for everyone regardless of income, gender or ethnicity.

"Berea still is predominately white, but the goal and the effort is to get to full inclusion, not just diversity, but everybody is included in the running of the college and the mission of the college. And I think that the move toward that kind of education is a whole lot more important than just having representatives of every ethnic group you can imagine on campus," said Klanderud. "We are trying very very hard to make sure everybody feels included that everybody has a voice."