Space to GRO: a new organization supports black women at U de C | Chicago News
In 1921, Georgiana Rose Simpson became the first black woman in America to earn a doctorate. She received her doctorate, bachelor’s and master’s degree in German philology from the University of Chicago.
Today, two University of California students honor her pioneering accomplishments with the Georgiana Rose Organization social group that supports black women and feminist students in academia.
GRO President Marla Anderson says that 100 years later, Simpson’s story resonates with her own and that of her peers.
âWe know she couldn’t be on campus because other students, her peers, didn’t want her on campus,â Anderson said. âWe know she has faced other struggles. After getting her PhD from UChicago, she couldn’t find a teaching job because people didn’t think her accomplishments were enough. And so what I really admired about Dr. Simpson’s story was first: his resilience; and two: its commitment to invest and reinvest in its community. I think that’s really where the GRO comes from, as black women in a predominantly white institution we’re going to face our own challenges and our own time to be resilient. “
In 2017, a bust of Simpson was placed in the university’s Reynolds Club to honor his memory. GRO vice president Dayo Adeoye notes that the placement of the bust in the space once reserved for white men is significant.
âHer bust parallels the exact president who refused to let her live on the Chicago campus,â Adeoye said. âHis bust is in a central location on campus that everyone will have a chance to see if they are a student here. And so I think for us it was like, it’s like a welcome, almost, to black students.
Adeoye believes that centering black women and their experiences in GRO will help equip her members in their post-graduate life.
“The void that we are really trying to fill is to create this space of care, this space of comfort to know that we are validated as women in our experience and to know that these experiences are intersectional and others,” she said. declared. âThen when we step into these spaces and go out into the world, we are given the confidence to speak, to truly be ourselves, because we always know that on campus in particular, there is this space. and that’s what GRO is. “
Anderson says the events the young organization is planning are meant to bond their members and the community.
âChicago is full of so many great businesses owned by black women,â she said. âAnd so we were able to go to Semicolon, which is a bookstore in Chicago, the only bookstore and gallery owned by black women. We were able to go to Kilwins. it is a chocolate factory owned by blacks. And we also went to the Bisa Butler exhibit at the Art Institute. If there are black women businesses or black businesses in Chicago that would love to see us, that would like to invite us over so that we can all have a good time and share this community together, that would be amazing.