Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Abijah Leamon ’24 Delivers Call to Action for Joseph Vaughn Day

Student Diversity Council President Abijah Leamon ‘24 spoke on her connection to the Furman community and hopes for its future to conclude the annual Joseph Vaughn Day commemoration.
Abijah+Leamon+%E2%80%9924+Delivers+Call+to+Action+for+Joseph+Vaughn+Day
Evi-Jane Garnett

On Friday, Jan. 26, the annual Joseph Vaughn Day commemoration service took place in the Daniel Chapel. The service included a number of speakers, concluding with a Call to Action from Abijah Leamon ‘24. Politics and International Affairs professor Teresa Cosby opened with some brief remarks, followed by a note from President Elizabeth Davis.
A new award was introduced at the ceremony, recognizing Black alumni for their outstanding work in the Furman community and named for Dr. Idella Glenn ’84. Glenn delivered an emotional speech after introducing the award, thanking Furman for the honor after her 20-year tenure here.
The award was granted to Erica Johnson-Ramsey ‘07, whose acceptance speech preceded the Call to Action from Leamon. The senior’s speech characterized the Furman community as a “beloved one,” posing the question of “how do I contribute?” to the students, focusing particularly on how to address inequality.

“Don’t expect change without exposing injustice,” Leamon said in her speech. “We must learn who we are before we can reach tangible ways to find change.

Leamon serves as the president of Student Diversity Council.
“Being in that capacity has helped me a lot with getting connected with other student orgs on campus that are a part of the Diversity Council, like CSA (Chinese Student Association), Afrikiya, DREAM (Disability Rights Education Activism Mentoring), FPA (Furman Pride Alliance), and others,” Leamon said in an interview following her speech.
Leamon also spoke on the importance of being exposed to different perspectives. “We all have very different identities, so being able to connect with them and create that community has been very, very meaningful,” she said.

The Dins Dialogue program is another important part of Leamon’s Furman experience. Launched in 2018, the program serves to “create spaces for participants to engage with one another across differences of race, gender, sexuality, class, faith and politics in ways that promote mutual understanding, compassion, and social change.”
Student facilitators such as Leamon are trained to lead workshops designed to foster discussions about social identity and power. “The group of facilitators often have different and complex identities and ways that they intersect, so the conversations that we have are just amazing. They’re so helpful and educate me so much.”
Anthropology department professor Dr. Kaniqua Robinson has acted as Leamon’s mentor throughout her time at Furman. “She always allows us to have conversations in that classroom where she’s a part of the conversation and students feel heard and can get things off their chest. It’s a safe space,” Leamon said.
On the topic of making progress toward justice, she imparts the following advice onto her fellow students.

“Keep your head up high. Keep striving, fighting, going forward. Embrace the community and you’ll be on the right path.”

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About the Contributors
Carter Ozburn, Assistant News Editor
Carter is a freshman English major on the pre-law track. He loves writing and working with the wonderful staff on the Paladin, and is so excited for his first year on the board. Outside of his work on the Paladin, he also writes poetry and prose for the Echo and works as a PAL tutor. He’s a bit of an art junkie if you couldn’t tell: he loves music, movies, books, and talking about books that he hasn’t read. Find him running begrudgingly, banging on the piano in Furman Hall or talking too loudly in the library.
Evi-Jane Garnett, Social Media and Photography Director
Evi-Jane Garnett is a sophomore from Winter Park, Florida studying French and Communication Studies. Evi-Jane has a passion for photography that began in high school when she was an avid photographer for the school’s yearbook. She served as the yearbook Photography Editor during her senior year of high school. At Furman, she has taken various photography courses and contributed to The Paladin. Evi-Jane is the current Social Media Director and Photo Editor of The Paladin and is excited to continue to share her love of photography.
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