University News

Ten WIU Students to Present at the National Council for Black Studies

February 1, 2012

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MACOMB, IL – Ten Western Illinois University African American studies (AAS) students will present individual papers at the 36th annual National Council for Black Studies (NCBS) Wednesday-Saturday, March 7-10 in Atlanta.

The students representing WIU are:

  • Freshmen
    Michael T. Gibson (Harvey, IL), with majors in AAS and law enforcement and justice administration; and Horzabrey West (Chicago, 800 block of E. 89th Place, 60619), an AAS major;
  • Sophomores
    Kyle H. Brown (Chicago, 2800 block of W. 86th Place, 60652), an AAS major; Elizabeth V. Etta (Macomb, IL), an AAS major; and Konnie S. Wells (Decatur, IL), an AAS major;
  • Juniors
    Breeia N. Little (Peoria, IL), with majors in AAS and law enforcement and justice administration; and Brandon Scates (Chicago, 5300 block of S. Cornell Ave., 60615), an AAS major; and
  • Seniors
    Jaiyvohn Davis (Chicago, 8100 block of S. Indiana Ave., 60619), an AAS major; Samantha Kay (Walnut, IL), an AAS major; and Rayvon Shelton (Broadview, IL), AAS and journalism majors.

"This is the first time in department history that 10 of our majors have been accepted to present at a national conference," said Alphonso Simpson, interim department chair and associate professor. "I am extremely proud to have these students represent African American Studies (AAS) and WIU. They are working hard and are excited about this professional opportunity."

"WIU constitutes one of the largest student delegations to register for the NCBS conference thus far," said Alfred Young, NCBS board member and professor of history at Georgia Southern University. "As the premier organization in AAS, we see it as our mission to develop the next generation of young educators and scholars in the field of African American/Black studies. Given Western Illinois' commitment and effective participation, the NCBS conference in Atlanta will continue in its tradition of success."

Thirteen WIU students submitted their research in the full-blind review by a panel of academicians. Each of the 10 students whose abstracts were accepted were notified the first week of January, and each student received a WIU College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity Grant to pay for travel expenses and registration fees associated with their conference presentation.

Along with Simpson, African American studies associate professors Audrey Watkins and Jo-Ann Morgan will present at the conference. Simpson, Watkins, Morgan and assistant professor Laurian Bowles all mentored the students preparing their papers.

For more information, contact Simpson, phone (309) 298-1181, or email

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