Announcing the “Sherman A. James Diverse and Inclusive Epidemiology Award”

The Society for Epidemiologic Research is pleased to announce the “Sherman A. James Diverse and Inclusive Epidemiology Award”. The award will recognize an individual who has demonstrated research, teaching or service that expands the scope of the field to under-represented or disadvantaged populations or researchers, and with an impact that has facilitated greater diversity and inclusiveness.

Core criteria for selection include interdisciplinary contributions or leadership to diversity and inclusion related efforts. This could include research, policy, community engagement, public health practice, program development, teaching and/or mentorship.

Sherman A. James, currently the Susan B. King Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, worked at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill from 1973 to 1989 and at the University of Michigan from 1989 to 2003. At Michigan Public Health, he was the John P. Kirscht Collegiate Professor of Public Health, a professor of epidemiology, the founding director of the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health (CRECH), chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, and a senior research scientist in the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research.

James’ research focuses on the social determinants of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health and health care in the United States. He is the originator of the John Henryism Hypothesis which posits that repeated high-effort coping with chronic social and economic adversity rooted in structural racism is an important factor in the early onset of hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases in African Americans. Dr. James is a long-standing member of SER which includes service as President in 2007-2008.

The Sherman A James Diverse and Inclusive Epidemiology Award is sponsored by the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Department of Epidemiology.

The inaugural recipient will receive the award at the 2022 SER Meeting to be held in Chicago. Nominations will be accepted September 30, 2021 – January 14, 2022.

Dr. Joe Lee Recognized as First African American Park Nationalist

On Thursday, August 29, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash

recognized Dr. Joe Lee, Talladega College Class of 1968, for his service as the first African American Park Naturalist. Superintendent Cash presented Dr. Lee with a mounted ranger hat in honor of his contribution to the history of the National Park Service.

Superintendent Cash stated that “His service fifty years ago broke employment barriers that once discouraged people of color from seeking employment in National Parks. He stepped bravely into unknown territory and paved a path for people like me to follow in his footsteps.”

The Superintendent also presented Dr. Lee with a framed photograph of all the park naturalists working in 1967, including two additional African Americans.  Dr. Lee shared memories of his park service journey with high school students, public officials, and the media at an event held  at William T. Dwyer High School in Jupiter, FL.

“I am overwhelmed that officials from the park would come to see me in the twilight of my life and recognize me as a trailblazer by being the first African American Park Ranger Naturalist in the Smokies,” said Dr. Joe Lee. “I have a deep, abiding respect for Superintendent Cash for following up on the call I made about my time as a Park Ranger. Now, I have proof for my grandchildren and their children about my time in the Great Smokies.”


Dr. Lee, who resides in Juniper, Florida, remains active in supporting Talladega College and its associations.

The park has recently embarked in an effort to better understand, share, and preserve the rich history of African Americans who lived in and around the southern Appalachian mountain region, both before and after the establishment of the park.  The National Park Service (NPS) strives to preserve the history of all people across the nation. Through this important project, the park is uncovering untold stories of African Americans who visited, lived, and worked in this region.

Opening Ceremony Held for Talladega College’s New Residence Dormitory

Talladega College’s new residence dormitory had its opening ceremony on January 16, 2019. The affair was attended by students, local dignitaries, state officials, faculty, local residents, and administrators. Remarks saluting this historic event were made, by Isaiah Hugley, Board of Trustees President; President Billy Hawkins, Harry Coaxum, Past President of the Board of Trustees, and Dr. Eugene Cain, TCNAA President. Performances were made by the College’s band and choir. Here are a few photos of the ceremony:


Talladegans Mix and Mingle at 2018 Christmas Parties

Talladegans in the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa chapters came together over the 2018 Christmas season to meet, greet, and have a great time reminiscing about their years at Talladega College. It was a wonderful opportunity for young and “seasoned” Degans to meet, mingle, and mix. The Birmingham affair brought over 40 Degans together at the Club 1st and 23rd in downtown Birmingham. The affair had live entertainment and was capped off with Degans singing the school song.

The Tuscaloosa chapter had its gala event the following evening in Hoover, Alabama at the beautiful home of Mark and Nedonna Cooper,’97. One of the highlights of the evening was a Talladega College trivia game which challenged everyone’s knowledge about the history of Talladega College. It was interesting watching the competitive minds of Degans and guests compete for the top prizes. Lastly, Mark and Nedonna presented everyone with a Talladega College ornament to hang on their Christmas tree.

Alumni Dr. Eugene Cain’s Photographs Appear in Opening of the Ourrouss Gallery in Dakar, Senegal

Dr. Eugene Cain, ’65 is among a group of international artists from the African diaspora whose works appear in the opening of the Ourrouss Gallery in Dakar, Senegal. The exhibit’s theme is Migrations/Immigration/Expatriation/Rapatriement; it opened on December 7, 2018 and will end March 7, 2019.

Dr. Cain has seven photographs in the exhibit. He traces his love for photography back to his high school years in Birmingham, Alabama (Western Olin High School) where he was introduced to the art form by his biology teacher, Sampson Julius Bennett, a 1955 graduate of Talladega College. The title of Dr. Cain’s submitted photographs is The Eyes Have It. Here are three of his exhibit photos:



Alumni Dr. Fannie Hicklin and UW-Whitewater’s First Black Professor Turns 100

UW-Whitewater’s First Black Professor Was Also State Historical Society’s First Black President – And Just Turned 100

Tables prepared for an evening of fine dining littered the marble floor of the Wisconsin Historical Society library on a recent Friday evening. The students that typically pack the second floor were replaced by a variety of dapperly dressed, mostly white, middle-aged people. The hundred or so
people all gathered together to recognize and celebrate a single person, Dr. Fannie Hicklin, who turned 100 years old last month.

Dr. Fannie Hicklin has championed civil rights and bettering the conditions of all spaces throughout her life. She has been a forerunner in Wisconsin, becoming UW-Whitewater’s first African American professor the same year the Civil Rights Act was passed, in 1964. She was a professor
of theater until 1988. Hicklin’s mark on the state’s history is reflected on UW-Whitewater’s campus theatre, which was named Hicklin Studio Theatre in 1996. Hicklin Studio Theatre During her time at the University of Whitewater, she proudly says, “Not once did I feel any type of
discrimination by faculty, staff or student’s parents. I never thought about being the first black professor there because I was treated like anybody else.”

Over the course of her time at UW-Whitewater, Hicklin directed more than 50 productions and also served as the school’s first Associate Dean of Faculties, Director of Affirmative Action and Chair of the Theatre/Dance Department. Dr. Hicklin discussed how UW-Whitewater’s hiring committee “cared a lot about the teachers, and really looked at people for their qualifications. They weren’t concerned with your race.”

A profound trait of Dr. Hicklen, is her focus on joy, and the importance of not allowing any environment, no matter how negative, to consume you.
“The emphasis, when we were growing up, was to recognize who we were and that if you knew you were capable of something, nobody can make you think less. We have ability, you have ability, and pay no attention to them. I had very good teachers,” she said. “I grew up in a tiny segregated
town called Talladega, but I went to an integrated school with white and black teachers, who taught us that we were capable, very capable, and not to let anyone say we weren’t.”

By 1977 she joined the board of the Wisconsin Historical Society. From 1991 to 1995, she served as the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Board of Curators first African American president. It was evident that the relationship Dr. Hicklen has with the Society is a strong, family-like bond. “I have great admiration for the Society,” she says.

The event’s atmosphere circled around the warmth and grace of Dr. Hicklen’s presence. Her high-spirited aura echoed throughout the space filling everyone in attendance with a wholesome energy. Waves of attendees made their way to greet Hicklin as she sat in lounging space with her daughter nearby. She donned a dress suit in the pink and green emblematic of her sorority, AlphaKappa Alpha, with pearls and a pin to match. When asked what the driving force that inspired her lifelong commitment to making conditions better was, Hicklin replies, “My father.” Hicklen’s father was the only person in his family to graduate from high school. “He had a farm for things that were difficult to get so they had their own dairy and their own laundry and raised a lot of things.”

Dr. Hicklin discussed how conditions have changed, though there are still a lot of bigots. “We can get jobs in areas that before nobody was able to get before, now in almost any industry you can find blacks,” she says. Still, she also reacalls how when she first got to Madison she had incredible difficulty finding housing. “There was definitely racism. It was very very difficult. As soon as they would find out you were black, there was always some excuse” as to why they couldn’t rent to her, Hicklin said.

She then shared a story from her time as a student in Michigan pursuing her masters but having a professor who was “An egotist that had a bias against me. Whenever I got an A, the following grade he would give me a B regardless of my work.” With a laugh, Dr. Hicklin recounts the results: “Other students started to notice as well, since I was the only black person. Then news got around and he was not used anymore.”

There were few moments during the birthday celebration when Dr. Hicklin was not smiling or telling a captivated greeter a joke. She added a flare to any conversation. It was with this lesson in mind that brought Dr. Hicklin success throughout her career and the praise of her peers. The current Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Christian Overland,
called the event “A celebration of a centennial, and not just her legacy but her impact on the future.” He noted Hicklin’s leadership model from when she served as president of the board in 1991 as a one that is still in place.
He then went to share how he first met Dr. Hicklin, not knowing she was their president. “She was serving me punch and then she told me who she was, and I was in awe,” he says. Overland stresses the importance and impact of recognizing Dr. Hicklin’s milestone, explaining, “It’s a way to celebrate her legacy and the next 100 years.”

In a closing statement Overland noted how the goal of the Society was to use history like Dr. Hicklin’s to keep “transforming lives using history.”

Written by Edgar Sanchez

At the time of this article’s original publishing, Edgar Sanchez was a reporting intern with Madison365, a sociology major at UW-Madison and a working DJ.


Talladega Alumni Emmanuel Piña New Director of Alumni Affairs

Mr. Emmanuel Piña ’13 was recently named director of alumni affairs for Talladega College. The former Tornado baseball player and McNair Scholar earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Talladega College and a Master of Science in leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

His responsibilities at Talladega will include developing and implementing annual giving and alumni relations programs.“I look forward to reaching out to alumni that we have not been in contact with. I also want to build a stronger relationship with those that we are in contact with, and update our database so that we can more easily maintain contact with all alumni,” Mr. Piña said. “Our alumni are a part of the Talladega College family and we want them to know that they are important to us.”

Mr. Piña, whose parents are from the Dominican Republic, is a native New Yorker and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. He is fluent in Spanish and previously taught high school mathematics. “There are many surprising similarities between my new position as director of alumni affairs and my prior role as a teacher. You cannot be a good teacher without developing a relationship with students, and developing a relationship with our alumni will be one of the most important aspects of my position as alumni affairs director,” he states.