Florida A&M University President Dr. Elmira Mangum invited five prominent female HBCU presidents to her second annual Extraordinary Reach event, held in FAMU’s Lee Hall Auditorium.
The panel included North Carolina Central University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White; Florida Memorial University President Roslyn Artis; Alabama State University President Gwendolyn Boyd; Wilberforce University President Algeania Warren Freeman and Savannah State University President Cheryl Dozier.
Each president has improved their university while terminating the general stereotypes about women in the work field by providing scholarships, community outreach programs and providing their students with numerous opportunities academically and professionally.
These five women gave insight of what being a woman in power entailed and discussed various setbacks African-American women face in professional settings. Through their various reflections they provided wisdom for aspiring leaders.
Artis’ saying, “do not girl me,” is her way of combatting the demeaning approaches her male counterparts use on her campus, making it clear that it is offensive and degrading when people underestimate her knowledge of certain subjects because she is a woman.
Saunders-White said it was imperative for women to be twice as good.
“We have to come more than just prepared,” Debra Saunders-White, Ph.D. said.
To motivate and inspire women to go beyond the expectations that have been set for them, Freeman made the point that women are different in their boldness in terms of not fearing.
To see women with so much power, FAMU Black Archives research associate Murell Dawson, Ph.D., was inspired and proud of the moment.
“I’m still excited. This was so historic to see the power, to see the compassion, to see the wisdom and to see the spiritual connection that these women had with each other,” Dawson said. “I am proud of FAMU at this moment. I can tell that the best is yet to come, because we’re growing some college presidents right now.”
Sitting FAMU SGA President Tonnette Graham said she was motivated by their leadership.
“It was a very inspiring event to see a stage full of African-American female university presidents and getting their perspective and seeing their seeds of leadership and how they made it through,” Graham said.