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Aiello, Graydon to Highlight African American History Month at ABAC

TIFTON—African American History Month activities at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College will be highlighted by speeches from Dr. Thomas Aiello from Valdosta State University and Wasdon Graydon, a 1970 ABAC alumnus and former ABAC administrator.

Franzelle Mathis-Pertilla, an instructor in ABAC’s Stafford School of Business, said the theme for African American History Month in February is “leveraging inclusion.

“The overall program for February will bring awareness to the situations underpinning African American experiences and bring the conversation to present day efforts to leverage relationships for bridging gaps and building bridges,” Mathis-Pertilla said.

Aiello, an associate professor of history and African American studies at VSU, will speak at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 in Howard Auditorium, and Graydon, managing partner with Graydon Enterprises, will speak at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 20 in Room 107 of the Health Sciences building. Both presentations are open to the public at no charge.

Aiello earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 2007. The bulk of his courses at VSU relate to all measures of African American history from early slavery to Black Power. His research interests are broader, covering twentieth century United States cultural and intellectual history and twentieth century African American cultural and intellectual history in a variety of different settings. Mathis-Pertilla said Aiello will share his original research on police brutality in South Georgia in the decade following World War II.

Books by Aiello include “The Battle for the Souls of Black Folk: W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, and the Debate That Shaped the Course of Civil Rights,” “Jim Crow’s Last Stand: Nonunanimous Criminal Jury Verdicts in Louisiana,” “Model Airplanes Are Decadent and Depraved: The Glue-Sniffing Epidemic of the 1960s,” and “The Kings of Casino Park: Race and Race Baseball in the Lost Season of 1932.” He has also published dozens of articles on American history, philosophy, religion, linguistics, and culture.

The Director of Sponsored Programs and the Minority Advising Program at ABAC before his retirement in 2010 after a 37-year career at the institution, Graydon was one of the first African American students to enroll at ABAC in 1968. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in History and Education from Georgia Southern University and his Master of Education degree from VSU.

In the December 2004/January 2005 edition of “South Georgia Business Magazine,” Graydon was named as one of the 25 Most Influential South Georgians. In 2001, Graydon received the E. Lanier Carson Leadership Award for College Administrators at ABAC and the President’s Award for Achievement, Leadership and Service.   In 1994 he was named Arts Citizen of the Year in Tift County. Graydon served as a Tift County Commissioner from 1984-1992 and was selected as a member of the Leadership Georgia program in 1991.

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