Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Emancipation Advocation

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Emancipation Advocation

Article excerpt

It was engrained in Vanessa Bell Calloway from the beginning: If you have, you give. A mother who stayed active in her community had the eyes of a young Calloway on her at all times, listening, taking in her philanthropy. It was all about her community, and as Calloway has matured into a successful actress, that sense has never left her.

"I was always brought up in a household that it didn't matter how much you had, you had to donate your time, your services," Calloway says.

It was her work in the community that brought Calloway into an alliance with the United Negro College Fund. UNCF continued to water the seed Calloway's mother planted in her as a child and gave her the sense of urgency needed to make a change in someone else's life. That change came in the form of Calloway's foster daughter, Jhamasa Noel Lewis-Adams.

"She was emancipated at 18," Calloway says. "Her life had taken a turn and she had nowhere to go. She had always been a friend of our daughter's and we just took her in. We didn't have any time to think about it. It just happened. But I realized that was God's gift to me and my husband to finish raising her."

And it was at an inter-alumni breakfast in 2009 where Dr. Hilliard L. Lackey, an assistant professor at Jackson State University, learned of Lewis-Adams' story. Calloway just wanted to get her to college. Lackey was there to help.

"My foster baby met Dr. Lackey, and thus was given the opportunity to go away to college just like every other freshman that was going into college that year" Calloway says. "She needed to get out of L.A.; I didn't know how I was going to get her out. I just knew she needed to get out. And in doing that, she's blossomed into such a beautiful young woman because she's had the experience that my own birth daughters have had."

But there was still more to do, more ways to help. …

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