During the 2023 Commencement Ceremony Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II announced a $10,000 annual scholarship to support Bennett College graduates who pursue post-graduate study. The “Sister Change Agent Toward a 3rd Reconstruction” scholarship will present $5,000 each to two Bennett College graduates, annually. The scholarship was established in the names of Erika Alexander, Dr. Sharelle Barber (daughter of Rev. Barber) and Reverend Dr. Barber. He seeded the scholarship with $20,000 to fund this year and next.
President Suzanne Elise Walsh, JD, received the gift, saying, “Thank you, Reverend Barber, for your belief in our students and your belief in the possibility of change.” President Walsh announced this year’s two recipients from the Class of 2023. Tears began to flow from those onstage and in the audience as this year’s recipients were announced. They are Nusayba Rochelle Guiro ‘23 (Summa Cum Laude in Social Work) and Kayla Diane Isaac ’23 (Senior Class President, Cum Laude in Biology).
Reverend Dr. Barber says, “I want to give a gift today and I want to challenge some of you who are out there today. Bennett College is not just a place that welcomes you on your way in, many of the students have been encouraged to go to grad school. And, it ain’t easy out here.” Reverend Dr. Barber, who knows what it is to lack resources, shared that “even with a family that started out middle class and then, because of sickness and other things, knew poverty, he understands what it means when somebody “sows” into your life, like somebody did his and his family’s. She added, “We don’t want some students to not be able to go to grad school because they needed an extra $2000 or an extra $5,000.”
About Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II
President and Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, Dr. Barber is a leading voice for moral activism and public policy. He has been recognized with numerous awards for his tireless work promoting social justice and equality.
Dr.Barber is also Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, Bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Goldsboro, NC, for the past 29 years, and Professor in the Practice of Public Theology and Public Policy and Founding Director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School.
He is the author of four books: We Are Called To Be A Movement; Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing; The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and The Rise of a New Justice Movement; and Forward Together: A Moral Message For The Nation.
About Erika Alexander
Erika is beloved for her iconic acting roles as Maxine Shaw (Living Single; garnering two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress/Comedy Series), “Linda Diggs” (Wutang: An American Saga), “Barb Ballard” (Run The World; nominated for NAACP Best Guest Actor), and most recently as “Meredith Lockhart” in (Swimming with Sharks), the critically acclaimed Apple+ series starring Elisabeth Moss.
She is also creator/writer/producer of 2022 Audible Original’s Best True Crime Series, and duPont Columbia award winner, “FINDING TAMIKA”, and producer of three time, EMMY nominated Best Documentary and winner NAACP Best Documentary, “JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE”.
About Dr. Sharrelle Barber
Sharrelle Barber, ScD, MPH ’07, daughter of Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, is Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Director of The Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements, and Population Health Equity, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Urban Health Collaborative at Drexel University. Dr. Barber received her undergraduate degree from Bennett College, a master Public Health from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, PhD from Harvard. She is a social epidemiologist and scholar activist whose research focuses on the intersection of race, place and health.
Watch the announcement at www.Bennett.edu/live. Click the menu on the graphic to select “Commencement 20223.”