The Ajani Celebration is a ceremony held the day before commencement that celebrates Mary Baldwin University graduates who have been engaged in diversity programming and who have supported the goal of building inclusive excellence during their educational tenure. Ajani Celebrants receive a kente stole that designates this involvement that they are approved to wear during Commencement.
Ajani brochure (PDF)
The Ajani selection process is administered through the Office of Inclusive Excellence. All students are encouraged to consult with the director early in their Mary Baldwin experience to get a clear understanding of the Ajani criteria. Only students who have been continually involved in diversity programming with direct supervision from the associate vice president of inclusive excellence throughout their Mary Baldwin experience are invited to participate in the Ajani Celebration. All Ajani participants must follow all outlined requirements for participation and must embrace the celebration with dignity and respect. Only students participating in the ceremony will be able to purchase the approved kente stoles to be worn during commencement exercises. For detailed criteria, please contact Rev. Andrea Cornett-Scott.
Started in 1996 under the leadership of Vashti Colson, the first president of the Black Student Alliance, the event is done each fall to collect African-American dolls for area children and to help raise awareness about the need to develop positive self esteem in African-American girls. The Black Baby Doll Day Project was adopted by the Ida B. Wells Living Learning Community in 2003. In the Fall of 2012 Black baby Doll Day will become a joint project of the Black Student Alliance and the Ida B. Wells Society. The project has received national acclaimed and has been featured in national magazines like Jet and Ebony. In past years the project has served more than 400 area girls a year.
Black History Month
Black History Month is a national event each February that celebrates the contributions of African-American people to the progress of humanity and to the development of the United States. At Mary Baldwin University, Black History Month extends beyond calendar borders, embracing programming offered by all of the sister organizations in Minority Women In Unity as well as the Baldwin Program Board. The calendar of events traditionally begins with the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15) and includes other annual events such as Kwanzaa, Gospel Extravaganza, Greater Things Dance Ministry recital, and a Kuumba Players production. To mark the strength of our African and Caribbean communities, special weeks are set aside to pointedly celebrate these cultures. The Caribbean Student Association and the African Student Kollective direct these special interest weeks.
Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday traditionally celebrated from December 26 to January 1. It was created by Civil Rights activist Ron Karenga. The word “Kwanzaa” means “First Fruits.” Traditionally, many West African people celebrated the harvest of the first fruits. Kwanzaa is designed to be a time when African-American people come together to give thanks for the harvest and to celebrate unity after working, struggling, and building together throughout the year.
At Mary Baldwin, first year African-American students present the principles of the Nguzu Saba through various art forms. The event has become a special rite of passage ceremony and is given in honor of our freshmen and graduating seniors. It is a celebration filled with feasting, music, dancing, drumming, and storytelling. The Mary Baldwin community as well as Staunton community is invited every January to participate in the Kwanzaa celebration. This event is sponsored by the Ida B. Wells Society.
Las Posadas is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter and a place for the birth of the baby Jesus, an event celebrated in Latin American communities around the world. Las Posadas dates back to 16th century Mexico and has become part of the traditional Christmas celebrations in many parts of America including our college community. Las Posadas Mary Baldwin Style is a pilgrimage that winds its way through the residence halls with lead characters Mary and Joseph knocking on doors and asking for a night’s lodging. Each stop along the way will reflect a different holiday tradition, including Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas in the Caribbean, Ireland and Africa. The procession concludes with a fiesta at the Student Activities Center. This is an exciting program for people of all ages. Participants are encouraged to wear warm clothing, comfortable shoes, and to bring a flashlight.
Latino-Hispanic Heritage Month
Latino-Hispanic Heritage Month is a nationally recognized event that celebrates and recognizes the contributions of Latino Americans to the United States. At Mary Baldwin University our celebration begins on September 15 and extends to October 31. Cultural events are planned through the Office of African-American and Multicultural Affairs in consultation with Latinas Unidas, La Casa Rosario Castellanos and the Latino Culture Gateway. Our college celebration is marked my numerous collaborative events that exemplify the various ways that Latino culture enrich our broader community.
Wall of Honor
The theme for the Wall of Honor project: A Great Cloud of Witnesses, acknowledges the extraordinary voices of students, alumnae, college family, and friends who have shared sacrificially in the development of our very successful diversity program. When we rehearse the history of college diversity, certain names are always called: alumnae, administrators, faculty, staff, organizational founders, family members and community members who have given freely of their time, talent and treasure to support the work of the office and the cause of college diversity. In respect for the power of narrative, the Ida B. Wells Living Learning Community created this oral history/visual arts project in 2006. Each year the community members complete a project to meet and to put a face with the stories that are so lovingly passed down from class to class.