Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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African American Studies
United Voices of Western Singers (at ISU's Workshop), facilitated by Percy Gray Jr.- Producer of Joshua's Troop and New Direction.
The African American Studies Department's outreach program aims at directly impacting the immediate and larger community in Macomb, west central Illinois, Chicago and the Quad Cities areas, the United States and the African World as a whole. It is geared at strengthening the scholarly and community service activities of the department. The department strives to be a leader in its outreach programs and to directly impact on the WIU community, the Macomb community, the west central Illinois region and other parts of our immediate and global world.
Among other outreach missions of the department are:
The United Voices of Western Inspirational Singers
The United Voices of Western Inspirational Singers (U.V.O.W.I.S.) was organized under the advisorship and direction of Dr. Alphonso Simpson, Jr., Associate Professor of African American Studies. The core group was predominantly students and also included faculty and staff. In 2007, Dr. Simpson met with the Executive Boards of U.V.O.W and W.I.S (Western Inspirational Singers), a smaller more exclusive group of auditioned singers who were formed under the leading of Ms. Ashley Davis (Western Alumnae S’07) to propose the merging of the two organizations for greater unity on campus for visibility and purpose. When the choirs merged, the numbers of the choir grew to a 35+ voiced organization. Today, under the advisorship of Dr. Simpson and a very active and supportive Executive Board, the choir has reached a membership of 75+ voices. The choir has performed numerous times at local churches, on and off campus, as well as engagements out of the Macomb area. To mark the end of every semester the choir hosts a concert. This past Spring semester, the choir produced their 4th live DVD (not for sale) at The Crossing church. Membership is open to any student, faculty or staff member at Western Illinois University. Rehearsals are held on Thursday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. in room 101B of Morgan Hall. There is no audition necessary.
In the past, the choir has attended the Illinois State Annual Gospel Music Workshop. Recently, the choir had the opportunity of sitting under the direction of Mr. Percy E. Gray Jr., 2005 STELLAR AWARD WINNER and Grammy, Dove Award Nominee from Chicago, Illinois. He is considered to be one of the nation’s most outstanding gospel music producers and songwriters. The choir got a chance to interact with other gospel choirs across the state as well as an opportunity to sing in an amazing 350+ voiced choir under the leadership of Mr. Gray. The choir has also performed with Mr. Darius Brooks, and Minister Rose Harper of Shekinah Glory Ministries at workshops held in 2007 and 2008. The choir also performed during Homecoming Weekend for the Family Weekend Breakfast which was held in the University Student Union.
The choir plans to host an annual Fall workshop in the near future. If you are interested in having the choir perform at an event you are sponsoring, please contact Dr. Alphonso Simpson Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please allow the choir at least 2 - 4 weeks notice before your scheduled event.
- Student Recruitment
- The department organizes visits and cultural programs in community colleges, high schools, and other places as part of its drive to recruit more students to the African American Studies degree program. It collaborates with alumni, the AAS Department Club, The Gospel Choir, and active historical Black Fraternities and Sororities on campus such as Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, Phi Beta Sigma, Omega Psi Phi, and Kappa Alpha Psi, in organizing its student recruitment events.
- African American Studies Department Alumni
- The alumni of the department of African
American Studies are regularly updated about the progress of the department,
and are invited to send ideas and suggestions that will strengthen the department's offerings and support extra curricular activities for students and
faculty. The department looks at its alumni as its ambassadors to the immediate
and larger world communities and strives, from when they are students on
campus, to provide them the best of the African American Studies discipline,
and make them always choose WIU's African American Studies as the exemplary
post-secondary education discipline that enhances their chances of becoming
leaders of their community and prepare them to be relevant in the social,
economic and political arenas of our global community, ensuring a strong and
satisfactory career for them and ensuring their strong background for further
- WIU Foundation
- Through the WIU Foundation, the African American Studies department
provides opportunities to its alumni to support the educational and community
outreach ventures of the department. AAS alumni and others interested in
supporting a strong African American Studies discipline have opportunities to
institute scholarship programs, support current scholarships, support student recruitment, the department's general operations or any
other area of their interest.
- African American Studies Lecture Series
- The African American Studies Department annually presents a lecture series to provide a forum through which students can get to know faculty members and their areas of research. The series is held each month during the academic year. This program was organized by Dr. Jo-Ann Morgan in 2008, with AAS faculty each giving presentations. The series continues with featured lecturers invited from other disciplines to speak about topics related to the benefits of studying African American history and culture.
WIU Black Alumni
The department wants to strengthen the relationship with WIU Black alumni and collaborate with them in ventures that are of immediate and long-time benefit to the Black Community in Illinois and around the world. The department also needs the help of alumni in recruiting students for the AAS degree programs.