AAAA works to engage Appalachian’s African American students


The Appalachian Online

Chamian Cruz

The African American Alumni Association, recognized in 2003 and officially active in 2007, is an affinity of Appalachian State University’s Alumni Association, which works to connect alumni with campus efforts and events.


Approximately 2,500 African Americans currently make up part of Appalachian’s nearly 150,000 total living alumni, said Renee’ Evans, president of the African American Alumni Association and member of Appalachian’s 1997 graduating class.


Evans returned to Appalachian as a professor in 2005 to teach for five years in the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling.


“For me, I saw this as something that was necessary because I know a part of Appalachian are African American Alumni,” Evans said concerning the creation of the AAAA. “Although we are a small number compared to the entire Alumni Association, we are still many.”


Evans said when she returned to campus to work as a professor she felt it was her obligation to the campus community to start the organization.


“We too are Appalachian graduates and we love our university, and so we wanted to make sure that there was an entity that would reach out to African Americans, because it hasn’t been done before, it just hasn’t,” Evans said.


Events are almost always in collaboration with the Appalachian Alumni Association, but in addition to homecoming, the AAAA hosts the Regional Networking event, which will be hosted for only its third time by 2015.


The Regional Networking event is an opportunity for African American Alumni to gather for a few hours and get caught up with the efforts and events the campus is currently working on. It is usually held during spring semesters, beginning in February and ending by late June.

Another one of the AAAA’s events is the Charlotte Area Regional Networking and Recognition event: “Recognizing Firsts,” which was hosted in Charlotte on Jun. 13, 2014 and recognized African American leaders and trailblazers who attended Appalachian from the 1950s to the 1980s, according to


“We had a great turnout and it was extremely humbling,” Evans said. “It was the neatest thing to have these individuals who had strived for the campus. The things that they did directly impacted everybody on campus.”


One of the highlights of the event was presenting a plaque to Altavia Floyd, niece of Edward Floyd, in his honor. Edward was one of first African American contractors to erect campus and town buildings during the early 1950s, but was not permitted to even eat at the university because of his race.


Instead of taking this as a setback, Edward encouraged his niece to be brave and attend Appalachian because it was a good school, Evans said.


“Education has been huge in impacting the lives of African Americans because it has allowed us to have access in equity and opportunity and it allows us to have access to resources that maybe we have not always had access to in terms of education,” Evans said.


This year marks the 50th anniversary of integration at Appalachian, which is being celebrated by groups like the Multicultural Center and the Black Student Association.


Chancellor Sheri N. Everts said she is currently working on a student committee to help increase diversity efforts on campus.


“As president of the [AAAA], it has been humbling to hear people’s stories,” Evans said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you that each student’s experience has been great and rosy, but for those who did not have the best experience I find that they are still proud Appalachian graduates. They did not hold that against the university.”

Story: Chamian Cruz, Intern News Reporter