University president hosts dinner for black students featuring cotton-stalk centerpieces

President Randy Lowry felt racism was a way to connect with Lipscomb University's black students?

By Rachel Leah
September 19, 2017 3:41PM (UTC)
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Lipscomb University (Wikimedia)

Lipscomb University's president hosted a dinner for the school's African-American students at his home, one that featured cotton-stalk centerpieces and a menu of traditional soul-food cuisine. The racially insensitive themes and decor — which many took as a sly nod to America's legacy of slavery — did not, as you can imagine, go over well.

One student in attendance instagramed a photo of the centerpieces, saying that not only was the entire evening deeply offensive, but at a similar dinner for Latino students from the university the night before, the president served tacos.


So I attend Lipscomb university and as most of you know that is a predominately white school. Tonight AFRICAN AMERICAN students were invited to have dinner with the president of the school. As we arrived to the president's home and proceeded to go in we seen cotton as the center pieces. We also stood and ate dinner, there were no seats to sit in and it felt very uncomfortable. We were very offended, and also the meals that were provided resembled many "black meals" they had mac n cheese, collard greens, corn bread etc. The night before Latinos also had dinner at his house and they had tacos. They also DIDN'T have the center piece that we HAD tonight. A couple of minutes went by, the president was coming around and asking for our names and what our major was. He finally got to our table and my friend @kay_cyann asked why there was cotton on the table as the center piece. His response was that he didn't know, he seen it before we did, he kind of thought it was " fallish", THEN he said " it ISNT INHERENTLY BAD IF WERE ALL WEARING IT " then walked off. Later on all of us that were there were invited into the home, and we had the impression that we were coming to speak about how us as Black people feel about Lipscomb. The whole entire time we were in their home they only talked about themselves( how they met, got married and ended up at lipscomb) & the ONLY question that we were asked was our transformation coming to lipscomb. A couple of women answered the question but they sugar coated it. They said any other questions that we may have can be emailed to the advocate for the Latinos and that a second meeting may be held. Also we don't have an advocate on campus, the only African American advocate we had, no longer works here. The only advocate available to us is the advocate for the Latinos. They claim to have funding for minorities, BUT you have to live up to the expectations of a typical Black family to even get the 1000$.There is NO FUNDING for just us black students. #share

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University president Randy Lowry issued an apology on Facebook. He wrote, "The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity. I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness."


Lowry said he welcomed further dialogue on the matter. Whether any student of color at Lipscomb will actually feel compelled to take the president up on that offer remains to be seen.

Rachel Leah

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College Confederacy Lipscomb University Racism Randy Lowry Slavery