4AW celebrates African-American women

March 28, 2018

Besides celebrating the end of another winter and the first signs of spring upon us, UT honored African-American women during two very important months this year: African-American History Month in February and National Women’s History Month in March.

The Association for the Advancement of African American Women (4AW) hosted their 25th anniversary annual gala on March 23rd in the Student Union auditorium.

The theme of the gala titled, “The Skin I’m In,” featured pink, black and white balloons all over the auditorium. It began with opening remarks by 4AW President Kajuan Willis.

“4AW is an organization which aims to empower and educate women while promoting academic success and building self-confidence,” Willis said. “Despite the under-representation and under-appreciation of all women, especially women of color, we continue to prosper and climb up the ladder.” 

She then presented UT students who performed some of their poetry. The Firesquad dance team was invited by 4AW to perform an inspirational choreography for the event to the songs “Rise Up” and “Freedom.”

“It’s an honor to be here and dance and support them,” said Ashley Boggs, Firesquad member and third-year information systems major.

Dinner was provided to the attendees, and afterwards VaLarie Humphrey presented an illustrative, motivational speech.

Humphrey, a “college youthologist,” has 25 years of experience in education, sometimes being labeled an “at risk” educator, representing her call to impact those that others may have given up on.

Her own actions and decisions caused her to flunk out of college after her second semester; however, Humphrey was determined to be successful.

“You have to surround yourself with people that make a difference,” Humphrey said.

After Humphrey’s speech, an awards ceremony honored graduates and younger members who have made an impact, as well as women’s organizations around Toledo.

Cathy Kruger, 22-year member of the National Association of Women and Construction (NAWIC), said that 4AW reached out to NAWIC because women are a minority in construction and it’s important to recognize their work in the industry. 

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