Alumnus Visits the Diversity Center

Alumnus Visits the Diversity Center

During the fall break, the Diversity Center had a surprise! W. D. Foster-Graham, class of 1974, visited the campus and stopped for a chat with the Center staff. This was his first visit back to the campus since 1983. The Dean for Institutional Equity and Inclusion, Lisa Scott, Steffert Spencer ('19) and I were available for a conversation with him and we learned some interesting pieces of information.

  • His class had 28 African Americans mainly from the Twin Cities, Chicago and Waterloo, IA.
  • He majored in Psychology and sang in the choir.
  • He is one of the founding members of the award-winning gospel group, Sounds of Blackness (www.soundsofblackness.org).
  • It was his class that held the Academic Dean hostage until their demands were met.
  • There were no institutional support structures for them, so they supported each other.
  • Some of his classmates, including him, came to Luther because they were offered a full-ride academic scholarship, so they graduated without any student loan debt.
  • During his time on campus he experienced some of the same challenges we still hear about today; the culture shock of moving from diverse cities to a small town like Decorah, the level of ignorance, stereotyping, and microaggressions.
  • He was one of the few African Americans who came out publicly.
  • He remembers Marty’s as a bowling alley and game area.
  • He is an author and has written a novel, Mark My Words, and a book of poems, Life Seasonings.
  • He has donated a copy of Mark My Words to Preus Library and plans to donate a copy of his book of poems as well.
  • He lives in Minneapolis with his husband and son.
Class of '74 W.D. Foster.