ECU's Ledonia Wright Cultural Center sets milestone
(Oct. 30, 1995)
East Carolina University recently dedicated the new location of its Ledonia Wright African-American Cultural Center. Now housed in the historically-important Bloxton House, in the heart of the main campus, the center is well on its way to becoming a focal point for African-American culture and history.
A person stepping inside the house, past the heavy wooden doorway, might notice an immediate familiarity with the surrounding. It’s like entering the foyer of fine home.
That’s part of the appeal, according to Dr. Valeria Lovelace, a member of the ECU Board of Trustees, who participated in a recent dedication ceremony.
“It’s a special place...an African-American home where minority students can go to think about their ancestors and about the ways they can do things to help others,” she said.
Inside, there are three large open rooms for meetings and social activities. The largest room doubles as a gallery for African and American art.
On display, is part of a 150-piece collection of art from the Kuba people of Zaire—a gift to the ECU School of Art from a Winston-Salem physician. ECU student artists will display their art at the center as well.
The center is named in honor of a former ECU faculty member—the late Ledonia S. Wright. Dr. Wright joined ECU in 1973 to teach community health in the School of Allied Health Sciences.
In her short tenure on the faculty, Wright became a leader for the recruitment, development and financial support of minority and disadvantaged students. The impact of her influence was dramatic. Through her leadership, minority enrollment grew dramatically and reached a high of 11 percent of the more than 13,000 students enrolled.
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She also contributed to the establishment of an activities center for minority students. The first facility, a campus landmark known as the “Y” Hut, had been the home of the ECU print shop. In 1975, Chancellor Leo Jenkins and other campus officials christened the building as ECU’s African-American Cultural Center.
Dr. Brian Haynes, the current associate vice chancellor for Minority Affairs, said the center that ECU established then was the first cultural center of it type in the state university system.
In 1976, following the death of Dr. Wright, ECU named the center the Ledonia Wright African-American Cultural Center.
“We are deeply moved and touched by the establishment of the center in its new home,” said Steven Wright, a Boston attorney and the son of the center’s namesake. Wright spoke at the October ceremony dedicating the center at its new site.
He said he hoped the center can become an important and useful place for students on campus.
The Bloxton House, was built in 1952 as a home management house and laboratory for the Department of Home Economics. In the late ‘70s, ‘80s and until this year, it was the headquarters for the office of Career Services.
The move by Career Services, earlier this year, to a house across from the main campus, brought with it the opportunity to establish the Bloxton House as a much-improved cultural center location. Chancellor Richard Eakin, along with the administrators and staff of the Division of Student Life, supported the change.