On Monday, November 23, more than 100 Nobles community members gathered virtually for the annual Nwanagu Family Dinner, named in honor of the late Devin Nwanagu ’05, who passed away in December 2014. We were lucky enough to have Devin’s family join the event, including her 98-year-old grandmother.
The 2020 dinner looked a bit different than in the past: While normally students, faculty, staff, graduates, parents and guardians convene in the Castle for a meal, instead the community met virtually. Edgar De Leon ’04 welcomed the group, followed by Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Teaching Fellow Mariah Oates, who introduced graduate speaker Dr. Stacy Scott ’77. Scott has worked as an educator, superintendent, psychologist, coach and policy maker, and is a senior lecturer in educational leadership at Boston University where he teaches strategic planning and educational governance. He also directs the Influence 100 program for the Massachusetts Department of Education, where he trains aspiring superintendents of color. Dr. Scott’s research and deep experience has made him a trusted voice regarding equity and leadership, capacity building and community development.
Dr. Scott spoke about racial justice and Nobles’ role in that conversation. He shared, “For me, Nobles was always a place of reflection, a place of discovery, a place of truth…I have always been concerned about Nobles’ place in the unnatural order of things. I’ve always held hope that it was trying to be a place that supported a healthy society.” Dr. Scott questioned both the pace and direct challenge of how Nobles teaches its students to be change agents in the world, asking, “Are students taught to challenge the elemental structures, the hierarchical nature or the elitist notions that reinforce an oppressive society?
For me, Nobles was always a place of reflection, a place of discovery, a place of truth…I’ve always held hope that it was trying to be a place that supported a healthy society.
“I too would like to make America great, but not like it was before,” Scott said, sharing his fear in light of the recent election—the number of Americans who want a world that would marginalize his very existence. Dr. Scott closed by stating: “If Nobles is to choose a path that could impact society at large, perhaps it could be to raise our collective [community’s] voice for truth and reconciliation… How do we build fire toward healing? What actions could we pursue?” The virtual format provided an opportunity for guests to respond to Dr. Scott’s talk with thoughtful questions, asking for resources to help with conversations as well as to reflect on how Nobles has and hasn’t changed since Scott was a student.
The evening ended with the signature tradition of the Nwanagu Dinner and Devin’s vision: For the Nobles community of color to get to know each other on a deeper level. In small breakout rooms, people introduced themselves and shared stories. In De Leon’s words: “As a grad and a member of the development team at the time of her passing, [Devin] was diligently working to make connections between grads of color and current students and families. Devin’s spirit, tenacity, and enthusiasm for the people of color of Nobles are present and palpable here tonight, especially because her family is online to join us this evening. Thank you for your continued support of our school and the DEI department.”