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Realizing the Dream Concert Featured Acclaimed Gospel Artist Tasha Cobbs Leonard

by Sophia Xiong
Graduate Assistant, CCBP

GRAMMY® Award-winning singer and songwriter Tasha Cobbs Leonard brought a top-notch performance to the 33rd Realizing the Dream Concert on Jan. 15. Her powerful voice and message drew a sellout crowd to Moody Music Concert Hall to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This year’s theme is Realizing the Dream through Commitment and Sacrifice. Student representatives Madeline Martin, University of Alabama Student Government Association (SGA) president; Jenna Peitsch, Shelton State Community College Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society president; and Kennedy-MyCal Davis, Stillman College SGA president welcomed the audience and recognized the continuous support from the Tuscaloosa Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They also acknowledged Friday night’s Legacy Award winners and introduced the featured performer.

As the audience started cheering with excitement, Leonard took the stage, saying “I am so excited to be here tonight. I want to shout out to each one of you that you cannot leave this event the same way you came in tonight.”

Her first song, “Burdens Down,” captured the audience with the lyrics,

“That’s when I laid my burdens down, I traded shame in for my crown.
My soul was in the lost-and-found, until I laid my burdens down.”

“I love Tasha Cobbs [Leonard], especially her realness, the spirituality, and the way she loves Christ and how it draws people together,” said Loretta Porter, one of the audience members at the concert.

Many people came to the concert because of Leonard’s powerful voice. “Today I was listening to one of her songs, and I was crying the entire time. She is so anointed by God,” said Kiana Kennanore, who works at The University of Alabama. When speaking about this year’s theme of Realizing the Dream Through Commitment and Sacrifice, Kennanore said, “Her song really touches on how God is so committed to us and how we should be so committed to him and his sacrifice.”

Belinda Jones, a member of Miles Chapel CME Church in Reform County, shared her story with the Realizing the Dream series. “I’ve been coming to the concert for five years,” she said. “My daughter started serving in the Air Force six years ago, and this has become a mom-daughter bonding event for us since then. We came here together every year. This year she is in New Mexico, so she couldn’t make it today, but I want to keep it going. You know, you see all your ancestors who have gone through so much in life, but they committed to making a difference. And there were a lot of sacrifices that came along with that. But there is still a lot of work to be done. I think it’s a great event not just for African Americans, but all people that can take part in and enjoy the celebration. I love to see the diversity of so many different people.”

Samantha Tolbert, an 8th-grade student from Thomasville Middle School and one of the student art award recipients of the Realizing the Dream Middle School Essay and Art Contest, attended the concert with her mother and sister. “I am pretty happy to win the contest. I hope our arts can reach more people,” Tolbert said.

“Dr. King paved the way for us to vote and [said] that for African Americans … we should get out and vote, even if we are not sure who someone is always to be at the polls to guide us,” said Shaleta Washington, Tolbert’s mother. “There are a lot of people who sacrificed their lives for us to vote and to be where we are today.”

UA Recognized as a Top Producing Institution in Student Fulbright Awards Competition


TopProducer_FulbrightLogoUA Recognized as a Top Producing Institution in Student Fulbright Awards Competition

TUSCALOOSA – The University of Alabama has been recognized as a top producing institution for student Fulbright awards, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Eleven of 30 UA applicants received the award during 2015–2016, one of the highest success ratios in the nation.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers grants for independent study and research projects and for English teaching assistantships overseas. The highly competitive program makes approximately 1,500 awards each year.

“Our success in placing students in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program demonstrates the far-reaching international scope of our excellent academic programs and the high value of a University of Alabama education,” said Dr. Kevin Whitaker, UA interim provost. “We continue to take pride in the many excellent and promising young people who choose UA for their academic studies.”

Ten UA graduates won awards as teaching assistants and one UA graduate received a Fulbright research award for the 2015–2016 academic year.

“It is an honor for UA to be listed as a top producer in the U.S. Student Fulbright competition,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost for international education and global outreach. “The Fulbright Program provides life-changing opportunities and experiences for our students.”

University of Alabama graduates serving abroad on Fulbright Awards are Brianna Adams (Czech Republic), Lisa Bochey (Peru), Nichole Camille Corbett (Turkey), Kathryn Crenshaw (Brazil), Scott Leary (Spain), Conner Nix (Spain), Charles Henry Pratt (Brazil), Jenna Reynolds (Spain), Hailah Saeed (Malaysia), Erin Smith (Turkey) and Russell Willoughby (France).

The Capstone International Center and the Global Café Program in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs, are partners in the UA Fulbright advising initiative, and their work together has resulted in the increased number of UA students who have won Fulbrights, said Dr. Beverly Hawk, UA Fulbright program adviser.

Students interested in applying for next year’s Fulbright program can learn more and, or by sending an email

A Fulbright informational event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, at Global Café in Capital Hall, 270 Kilgore Lane, on the former Bryce Hospital campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Other top producers this year include Harvard (31), Michigan (29), Northwestern and Yale (26), UNC-Chapel Hill (15), Texas-Austin and UVA (14), Duke and Ohio State (12), Florida State, Tufts, Maryland and Alabama (11). For the full list of top student Fulbright program producers, see

SOURCE: Dr. Beverly Hawk, Director of Program Services,, 205/348-7392

Three UA Fulbright Award winners are serving in Spain this year. From left, Scott Leary, Conner Nix and Jenna Reynolds celebrate the beginning of their Fulbright grants to Spain as guests at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Madrid.

Crossroads Community Center’s Lane McLelland honored with National Dialogue Award


Crossroad Community Center’s Lane McLelland was honored at the Second Annual National Dialogue Awards on October 9th, 2015  at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Presented by the Sustained Dialogue Institute, the National Dialogue Awards honors those whose lives have been powerfully marked by the principles and values of the organization. The mission of the Sustained Dialogue Institute is to help people to transform conflictual relationships and design change processes around the world.

Lane McLelland Named Capstone Hero for Embodying Spirit of the Capstone Creed

Senior Jessie Ashton presents  Capstone Heroes Award to Lane McLelland.
Senior Jessie Ashton presents
Capstone Heroes Award to Lane McLelland.

Lane McLelland, director of Crossroads Community Center since 2013, has been named a Capstone Hero for outstanding service to students.

The award recognizes her work in strengthening Sustained Dialogue and her role in founding Blend, a student organization that promotes diversity. She was also cited for being willing to sit down with students to help them deal with their problems, whatever they might be.

“Lane McLelland has brought a spirit and enthusiasm to Crossroads that has indeed made a difference in so many aspects of life on campus and in the community,” said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, the division that oversees Crossroads Community Center. “We congratulate Lane for her excellent work that has brought honor not only to her but to our entire campus.”

The award, given by the Office of Student Conduct in the Division of Student Affairs, honors those who embody the spirit of the Capstone Creed, which reads: “As a member of The University of Alabama Community, I will pursue knowledge; act with fairness, honest, and respect; foster individual and civic responsibility; and strive for excellence.”

“Having received an honor for something I know others more clearly deserve has made me profoundly aware of the importance of finding a way to thank the many heroes I encounter in my work at UA. Their untold efforts and ongoing devotion to the University make so much possible for us all,” McLelland said on receiving the award.

The purpose of Capstone Heroes is to highlight service and positive actions of members of the UA campus. For more, go to

Dr. Jonathan Holloway of Yale University Is the 2014 Realizing the Dream Distinguished Lecturer

By Kirsten Barnes
Center for Community-Based Partnerships

TUSCALOOSA — Stillman College will host Yale University professor of history and African American studies Dr. Jonathan Holloway as the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Realizing the Dream Distinguished Lecturer, a project jointly sponsored by the Tuscaloosa Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Shelton State Community College, Stillman College, and The University of Alabama.


The lecture is the climax of a series of activities held on each campus throughout the day. The title of his lecture is The Right Kind of Family: Addressing the Silences in a Civil Rights Memory and will be held Tuesday, March 18, 7-8:30 p.m. in the College of Education Building on the Stillman College campus.

Holloway is professor of history, American studies and African-American studies, chair of African American studies, and master, Calhoun College at Yale University.

Holloway is author of Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America since 1940. He will address the audience about national racial issues and his own family’s experience. Holloway, who is in his 15th year at Yale, said his discussion will be based on part of his book, that evolved from a personal historical search of his own family and their Southern roots in North Carolina and Virginia.

“It’s part of a personal family story,” said Holloway, who was raised in Maryland, but lived in Montgomery, Ala., while his father studied at Maxwell Air Force Base when he was 5 and 6 years old. “That’s really where my memory begins. I don’t remember much at all before that time.”

In his book, Holloway discusses how African Americans struggle with remembering the past; therefore, many worthwhile stories, which are critical parts of their history, have been lost.

“The book deals with how African-Americans have told stories about their past; and in writing these stories I discovered my own family’s personal stories and I will weave some of those in the talk,” said Holloway, who published his first book, Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris, Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche 1919-1941 in 2002.

Holloway’s lecture will be followed by questions from the audience and is open to the public.
The Realizing the Dream program began in 1990 at a time when many communities were just beginning to celebrate King’s legacy. Today, the program includes a concert, a legacy banquet and the lecture series.

“The Distinguished Lecture Series represents a critical component of our efforts to raise consciousness about injustice and to promote human equality, peace and social justice by creating educational and cultural opportunities for growth, empowerment and social change to enable every person to experience the bounty of life’s abundant possibilities,” said Dr. Linda R. Beito of Stillman College, chair of the Distinguished Lecture series.

In addition to Holloway’s presentation, there will be additional events on both campuses for students and faculty. For more information, contact UA’s Office of Community Affairs at 205-348-8376 or visit