KC Alumni Spotlight: Thura Mack



Congratulations to KC Alumna Thura Mack, honored by Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon for being a remarkable educator and community leader. Thura is very instrumental in the revival of Dear Ole' KC. She has advocated for our MOU with the #utknoxville Library, an essential requirement for our reaccreditation.




Perspectives:

Black History Month and Representation

Before desegregation, there were Black-owned businesses that represented strength and hope for Black communities in my hometown of Valdosta, Georgia. When they integrated schools in the 1960s, it was a big culture shift. Our entire communities had been separate—schools, churches, neighborhoods. The doctor’s offices had separate waiting rooms for Blacks and whites. If there was a ration on food the white families were served first. During summer travels—some of my fondest memories—my father had his Green Book that told him where it was safe to stop for food or rest. If you saw the movie The Green Book, that was how we traveled.

Getting a good education was the sure way to bring about change for families and communities.


Although I came from humble beginnings, my family was rich in love and tradition. They were mostly tobacco farmers, homemakers, and educators. And the expectation of my parents for all their children was that we attend college or trade school after high school. When I was a teenager, I worked at the public library, and there was a librarian there who encouraged me to become a librarian myself. The thought of it captured my imagination.


After arriving in Knoxville, I found people who mentored me and gave me opportunities. As the first child to attend a four-year college, it was important for me to be a trailblazer and be successful.


My inspiration has been my daughter, Niyia. Through her unconditional love and beautiful eyes, my dreams were achievable and the possibilities endless. I have proudly been employed by UT for more than 30 years. Today I have the pleasure of working through outreach with STEM programs, helping other first-generation students to achieve their own academic success. My personal philosophy is “If students can imagine it, they can do it.”


Mack is a professor and coordinator for community learning services and diversity programs with UT Libraries. She leads the libraries’ outreach to Knoxville schools and teaches information literacy and library research skills to university-bound students in the College Access and Persistence Services (CAPS) program and Project GRAD. She has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Knoxville College and a master’s in library science from UT.


source: UTK - February 4, 2021


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