Multicultural and Minority Culture Lounges
Most residential communities have a lounge dedicated to recognizing the activism of underrepresented groups. These lounges were originally created to provide students of color the opportunity to interact with one another in a relaxed and open environment; they became havens for support, solidarity, and sharing. Today, the multicultural and minority culture lounges still serve this purpose and have also expanded to meet the ever-changing needs of residents of all social identities.
Multicultural and minority culture lounges are the primary meeting place for multicultural councils. These lounges also serve as places for reflection and learning for all residents. To maintain the historical context of these lounges while also providing the best living-learning environment possible, any resident may attend an orientation with their Diversity Peer Educator to receive access to their community’s multicultural or minority culture lounge. Each orientation session educates residents on the history and importance of their community’s lounge(s). The orientation session also establishes guidelines to ensure the space is respected.
The Umoja Lounge, formerly known as the Newcomb Lounge, was dedicated in Alice Lloyd Hall in 1991. The name of this lounge was inspired by Kwanzaa, the African American holiday celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. “Umoja” is the Swahili word for 'unity,' one of the seven guiding principles which represent each day of the Kwanzaa celebration. The decision to change the lounge's name stemmed from a desire to reflect the original goal of this lounge: to promote unity among students of color.
Umoja is the principle celebrated on the first day of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa means “first fruits of the harvest” in Swahili, and it has gained tremendous acceptance since its founding in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga with over 15 million people worldwide celebrating this holiday today. Overall, Kwanzaa is the celebration of traditional African values. On the first day, participants stress the togetherness of family and the community. Following this first day of celebration, each of the remaining days celebrate one of the following principles: Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).
Vicky Barner Lounge
The Vicky Barner Lounge is located in Alice Lloyd Hall. This lounge is named in honor of Vicky Barner to commemorate her activism around issues of equality and respect for the Native American population at the University of Michigan.
Vicky Barner was born in Alaska in 1919 to Native American parents. She was moved at a young age to be raised by an aunt in Ohio where she later attended Ohio State and Case Western Reserve University. During World War II, Vicky enlisted in the army as a registered nurse. She married Leroy Barner when they both returned from service overseas. They settled in Pennsylvania and began raising a family. In 1965, a few years after the family had moved to Michigan, Vicky became dissatisfied with nursing and enrolled in art school at the University of Michigan. She graduated in 1969 with her BFA. Shortly thereafter, Barner played an integral role in the creation of American Indians Unlimited. This student group put on the first pow-wow in Ann Arbor, a tradition that continues today. Vicky went on to earn her master's degree in education from Eastern Michigan University, later becoming a recruiter of Native Americans for the school. She also formed a group called Women of American Native Tribes, which helped Native Americans find jobs. The Vicky Barner Multicultural Lounge in Alice Lloyd Hall was rededicated in Vicky's honor in 2000. The lounge features artwork on Native American themes as well as examples of Native American crafts.
Grace Lee Boggs Lounge
The Grace Lee Boggs lounge was dedicated in April 2010 to recognize the ongoing work of social activist Grace Lee Boggs. Boggs is a Detroit resident who was born to Chinese immigrant parents in 1915. She received her BA from Barnard College and her PhD in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College. After moving to Detroit, Boggs worked closely with her husband, James Boggs, in grassroot organizations. They worked together until his death in July 1993. Together they published a book entitled Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century.
In 1992, Boggs, along with her husband, Shea Howell, and other partners, founded Detroit Summer. This is a multicultural and inter-generational youth program working to rebuild and re-spirit Detroit. Boggs currently works with the Detroit Community of Hope campaign and the Beloved Communities Initiative.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Lounge
The lounge in Bursley Hall is named after one of this nation's foremost civil rights leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. Dr. King endured harassment, arrest, and many other hardships and dangers in order to fight for equality for minorities in the United States. Dr. King delivered some of the most powerful speeches of the 20th century, including the well-known "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. His actions and words made him an icon of the civil rights movement, providing hope to many during dark times. He was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 while standing outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Every year the University of Michigan commemorates Dr. King's birthday with University Symposium activities which include lectures, community service projects, cultural events, and marches.
This lounge is named after the hall's multicultural council, CAMEO (Couzens Active Minority Ethnic Organization). The council represents residents of Couzens who share common interests and seek to make their peers aware of multicultural concerns and issues of diversity. CAMEO council serves as a peer support group for the multicultural student population and conducts cultural programs for the benefit of all residents. This room celebrates the history of activism on the University of Michigan campus. A mural in the lounge depicts U-M students, from all walks of life, joining together and participating in different forms of activism that have changed over time. The lounge serves as a call to action, encouraging students to acknowledge the struggle of all and to stand together to correct injustice.
"Abeng" is an African word meaning conch shell. Abengs were used as horns, often accompanied by a drum, by the slaves in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean and West Indies to call meetings or communicate with one another. In the United States, the abeng became the symbol of a "call to action" because it was used to call the slave community together for underground meetings during the time of slavery. This symbol was selected as a name for the East Quad lounge to educate the students about this history and to call students to action to be advocates for positive social change on the University of Michigan campus.
The second of its kind at the University of Michigan, the Abeng multicultural council and lounge were developed in 1971 as the result of BAM (Black Action Movement). The movement, through protest, sought equal access and opportunity for students of color at the University. The Abeng multicultural council, which addresses issues unique to people of color, meets on a regular basis in the Abeng Lounge. This lounge features a mural of important figures in the Black Action Movement as well as artwork and colors that symbolize the pan-African movement.
Angela Davis Lounge
One multicultural lounge in Markley is named after the renowned and controversial political activist, Angela Davis. This lounge was rededicated on October 17, 1991, and Davis, who was on campus that day delivering a major address, attended the re-dedication ceremony.
Angela Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1944. She received her Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Brandeis University, where she was involved in organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She carried out her graduate work at the University of California, San Diego. Angela Davis is most often remembered for her strong political activism. She joined the communist party in 1968 and was its vice-presidential candidate in the 1980 presidential election. Her Communist views caused her to lose her first teaching job at UCLA in 1969. Although her dismissal was overturned by a court order, her contract was not renewed the following year. Angela Davis remains politically active today and is an important advocate for prisoners' rights.
Arati Sharangpani Lounge
The multicultural lounge in Markley Hall honors the memory of Arati Sharangpani, a remarkable young woman who studied at the University of Michigan from 1993 to 1997. Born in Baroda, India in 1975, Arati, which means "offering to God," moved to Holland, Michigan with her family when she was two years old. An active and outgoing person, she traveled to Germany as an exchange student during her senior year in high school. Inspired by the cultural diversity to which she was introduced in her travels to Germany and India, Sharangpani resolved to try to make the world a better place.
While pursuing a double major in German and Organizational Studies, Arati became involved in many activities during her years at U-M. In addition to working as a Resident Advisor in Markley Hall for two years, she actively participated in the Indian American Students Association and served as its vice president in 1995 and 1996. Arati also became a facilitator for Michigan's 21st Century Program and served as a graduate assistant for the American Culture Department. Despite her involved academic and extracurricular schedule, Arati managed to find time to volunteer for a number of local community organizations.
On January 9, 1997, en-route from a successful job interview with Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio, Arati was killed when the plane in which she was traveling crashed during a snowstorm near Monroe, Michigan. She was posthumously awarded Bachelor of Arts degrees in both German and Organizational Studies by the University of Michigan. In 1998 the former Concourse Lounge in Markely Hall was dedicated to celebrate the life and spirit of one of the hall's most vibrant young residents. The lounge was rededicated in 2003 with new artwork and a display specifically in honor of Arati.
Nikki Giovanni Lounge
Poet, writer, and lecturer Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1943. She received her college education at Fisk University and holds many Honorary Degrees from institutions all over the country. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, such as Black Feeling and Those Who Ride the Night Winds. Giovanni has taught at many universities including Rutgers, Ohio State, and Queens College (City University of New York). She visited the U-M campus in January 1999 to speak at the MLK Day Symposium. While in Ann Arbor, she also spoke to a group of students in the lounge that bears her name. Giovanni is currently a Professor of English at Virginia Tech.
César Chávez Lounge
César Chávez was born of Mexican heritage in Yuma, Arizona in 1927. He founded and led the National Farm Worker's Association (NFWA), the first successful farm workers union, later known as United Farm Workers (UFW). During the 1950s and 1960s, Chávez worked for a self-help group, the Community Service Organization. He became a full-time organizer for the group, organizing new chapters across California and Arizona. After serving as National Director of CSO, Chávez resigned his position to follow his dream and create his own organization to help farm workers. The UFW held boycotts and fasts to protest the treatment of farm workers worldwide. César Chávez said "if you're outraged at conditions, then you can't possibly be free or happy until you devote all your time to changing them and do nothing but that." He died in 1993 at the age of 66. The César Chávez Lounge was dedicated in 1995.
Newberry Residence Hall
Audre Lorde Lounge
The multicultural lounge in Newberry Residence Hall is named in honor of Audre Lorde. Lorde was a successful poet, teacher, librarian, and activist who gained wide respect through her struggle against oppression based on race, sexual orientation, and gender. Lorde founded the Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa and was a prominent speaker at the first National March for Gay and Lesbian Liberation in 1979. The strength she demonstrated in these struggles has been an inspiration to women all over the United States. Lorde was selected as the namesake of this lounge in an effort to create a space that promotes the lives of all women. This lounge is a safe space that promotes "women power."
Mahatma Gandhi Lounge
Oxford Hall's minority cultural lounge is dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, a civil rights pioneer who initiated the practice of non-violent protest for achieving social and political change. Born in Porbandar, Kaithiawad, India on October 2, 1869, Gandhi devoted his life to achieving equality for all people and self-rule for India. After studying law in India and England, Gandhi first became involved in human rights activities after experiencing color and race discrimination and harassment in South Africa while on a legal assignment there. Establishing a method of passive resistance known as satyagraha, he used protest marches and hunger strikes to achieve his humanitarian and political objectives in South Africa and later, India.
Despite his peaceful approach to change, Gandhi's work outraged numerous groups. After enduring 2,338 days in prison, many hunger strikes and attempts on his life, in January 1948, Gandhi was assassinated in Delhi, India at the age of 78. American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was strongly influenced by Gandhi and patterned his own political and social activism on Gandhi's methods.
Rosa Parks Lounge
The Rosa Parks Lounge in Stockwell Hall was dedicated in 1973. Rosa Parks, for whom the lounge is named, was born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1913. In 1955, the tired seamstress refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery as was required by city ordinance at the time. This action started a bus boycott that lasted over a year and inspired civil rights activist protests nationwide. The Supreme Court ruled such segregation unconstitutional in 1956. Parks was once the secretary to the NAACP President and remained active with the organization. In 1996, the civil rights pioneer received the President's Medal of Freedom. Parks passed away in Detroit on October 25th, 2005 and was the second woman and first African American to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Building Rotunda.
Established in 1972 following the initial BAM (Black Action Movement) on the University of Michigan campus, the Afro-American Lounge was one of the first U-M residence hall lounges to be decorated with art and artifacts that reflected African American culture and history. Of the seven murals in the lounge, two reflect the struggle of the African American community in America. This lounge was created becasue BAM participants felt they had nowhere safe to meet at the University. Before this lounge was designed, no other cultural group had asked for meeting or living spaces that reflected their culture and history.
In developing this Housing-funded lounge — a place where students of color would feel welcome and comfortable — members of the African American community actively participated in its layout and overall design. At its inception, Ambatana (a Swahili verb meaning "stick together") was the name of South Quad's African American student organization — a group that addressed African American students' issues. Around the same time, Minority Peer Advisors (now known as Diversity Peer Educators), who were paraprofessional student staff hired by Housing to work with the African American student organizations, focused primarily on African American student issues. Over time, the focus of the MPA job expanded with the the role of Ambatana to include all federally recognized students of color: Native American, Asian American, Hispanic and Latino/a American and African American residents. Today, Ambatana is the name of the multicultural council, an organization for any and all South Quad residents who wish to participate in diversity education. Ambatana meetings usually take place in the Afro-American Lounge, which is often referred to as the Ambatana Lounge.
Yuri Kochiyama Lounge
Yuri Kochiyama was born in San Pedro, California in 1922. After being held in World War II Japanese internment camps, she became involved in the civil rights movement. She moved to Harlem, NY with her husband and became a strong political activist and speaker. She supports black liberation, Japanese-American redress for the internment, and other social justice issues. Yuri Kochiyama was a close friend of Malcolm X and a member of the Organization for Afro-American Unity (OAAU) as well as many other organizations. She is most famous for the photo of her holding Malcolm X after he was shot at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem in 1965. Although she no longer accepts offers for speaking engagements, she continues as an active human rights activist and still resides in Harlem, New York. The lounge was dedicated to Yuri Kochiyama on April 17, 1999. She visited South Quad before the interior design of the lounge was completed.
Edward Said Lounge
The Edward Said Lounge is the most recent multicultural lounge at the University of Michigan, dedicated in February 2015 in North Quad Residence Hall. Edward Said was born in Jerusalem in 1935 during the British Mandate of Palestine. He grew up between Cairo and Jerusalem. Said's family was profoundly affected by conflicts in the region, beginning with the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, and Said himself was sent to the United States where he attended Princeton and later received a PhD from Harvard. In 1983, he accepted a teaching position at Columbia University, which became his academic home. Said went on to hold the position of University Professor (the highest honor the Columbia University bestows) and received many other academic honors including an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Michigan (1998). His best known book, Orientalism (1978), had a tremendous influence in literary studies and the social sciences and resonates to this day. This lounge is dedicated to Edward Said to celebrate his contributions to humanities and to Arab-American culture.
The Asubuhi (a Swahili word meaning "morning") Council formed in Fall 1981 to serve as the resident council for students of color in West Quad, Betsy Barbour, and Helen Newberry Houses. Until that point, no organized resident forum for students of color existed in the residence halls. Consequently there was no vehicle for social, recreational, and educational activities directed to serve this population.
One of the main projects of the Asubuhi Council, in conjunction with a series of Minority Peer Advisors and the director of the building, was to develop plans to remodel the existing minority cultural lounge. It was the decision of two councils over successive years, along with other building staff, not to name the lounge in honor or memory of a specific individual, as had been done in a number of other Housing minority cultural lounges. Instead, the Council decided to name the facility the Asubuhi Cultural Center and Lounge. There were several design goals for the lounge. First, the lounge was to serve as a pleasant and effective lounge for students of color activities, including discussion sessions, small group seminars, meetings, and social functions. Second, it was to serve as a storytelling educational gallery and an African society-inspired media presentation that would challenge residents and visitors.
The renovated lounge was dedicated on February 5, 1985. Jon Onye Lockard, a University of Michigan faculty artist, worked closely with lounge designers. Since the early 1970s, Lockard has been involved with the design of several minority cultural lounges throughout the Housing system. More information is available about Jon Onye Lockard by visiting the Center for Afro-American and African Studies' website.
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