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Mike and Cindy Watts receive WESTMARC Regional Advancement Award

November 15, 2019

Mike and Cindy Watts, for whom the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions is named, received the Regional Advancement Award from WESTMARC on Nov. 7 during its annual Best of the West Awards show and dinner.

The Wattses are co-founders of Sunstate Equipment, a highly successful equipment and rental company that began in Arizona in 1977 and has expanded to 10 other states. Both grew up in the west Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale when it was a newly developed community. Concerned by the urban decline Maryvale began experiencing in the 1980s and 1990s, the couple made leadership gifts to the Maryvale YMCA and endowed the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, an initiative of the Watts College. award sculpture Mike and Cindy Watts were honored by WESTMARC Nov. 7 with this Regional Advancement Award for their contributions to ASU and to the West Valley. Download Full Image

In 2018, the couple made a $30 million donation to ASU’s then-College of Public Service and Community Solutions, prompting the renaming and spurring expansion of the college’s work in community development, public policy, criminal justice and child well-being, including the funding of five endowed professorships. The gift also is contributing to a revitalization effort in Maryvale, with ASU collaborating directly with local leaders to bolster their efforts and increase community engagement.

Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell spoke about the couple’s dedication to their community and region in a video introduction shown at the awards dinner.

“I can’t think of a couple that is more devoted to the West Valley than Mike and Cindy,” said Koppell, who said he was delighted to be speaking on behalf of the college bearing the couple’s name.

“It’s important to understand, however, that the gift to ASU, while being focused on our students and on great research, was primarily because they cared passionately about advancing the communities of the West Valley and saw the investment in the Watts College as being a vehicle for making a difference in people’s lives.”

Founded in 1990, WESTMARC — which stands for Western Maricopa Coalition — consists of 15 West Valley communities, including Phoenix, in partnership with area businesses and educational institutions including ASU. Its mission, according to its website, is “to address important issues facing the West Valley’s economic prosperity.”

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W. P. Carey School honors State Forty Eight for excellence in entrepreneurship

November 14, 2019

3 Chandler men grow T-shirt business from startup to 'the face of Arizona'

Michael Spangenberg said he was always that “one weird dude” in his Chandler classroom who was born in Arizona. Still, he didn’t realize that Arizona was the 48th state to join the country.

“Now I do,” said Spangenberg, co-founder of the popular State Forty Eight apparel company.

Spangenberg and his partners were honored Wednesday with the Spirit of Enterprise Award by the Economic Club of Phoenix, part of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, given annually to a business that exemplifies excellence and ethics in entrepreneurship.

In his talk, he described how he and co-founders Stephen and Nicholas Polando, who are brothers, grew their business from a side hustle to a brand that sells $4 million in clothing and hats a year.

Spangenberg always loved clothing and was huge fan of all the Arizona sports teams.

“My favorite thing was back-to-school shopping,” he said. “It drove me nuts that I never saw anything that represented Arizona in a positive way.”

He always wanted to have his own clothing line, even as he was working in the hotel industry.

“I was probably writing down names in a book for two years, but no clothing line ever made sense,” he said. It was 2012 and he was roommates with Stephen Polando, a childhood friend.

“Stephen was brushing his teeth and he came out and he said, ‘State Forty Eight.’ It was an ‘aha’ moment,” Spangenberg said.

Nicholas Polando was a self-taught graphic designer who then came up with some logo ideas.

“He proposed three and two were bad,” Spangenberg said.

So the three became equal business partners, gathered together $1,500 to trademark their logo and launched State Forty Eight in 2013 — all while keeping their full-time day jobs.

Michael Spangenberg holds the Spirit of Enterprise Award while chatting with Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business, who said that State Forty Eight is about "inspiring others to rise up and stand for something they believe in." Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“The first two years, we didn’t earn a dollar,” he said. “We were selling T-shirts at launch parties on Mill Avenue and at First Friday when First Friday wasn’t even cool.”

They built their own website and ran their own social media. They scoured Craigslist for a thermal heat press and when they collected enough profits, they would make a new batch of T-shirts.

“I’m not the most handy guy and I made shirts backwards and upside down,” he said. “We were hustling.”

A turning point came in 2016 when they scraped together $1,500 to join the Phoenix Fashion Week’s emerging designer boot camp.

“The thing that stood out from that was learning how to sustain the business,” he said. “It wasn’t just a glamor runway show.”

They started networking, and found a connection to Bruce Arians, then the coach of the Arizona Cardinals. That led to the now-famous State Forty Eight T-shirt that featured Arians’ likeness with his trademark flat-top cap and game-day headset. Sales of the shirt benefited the Arians Family Foundation, which fights child abuse.

“We couldn’t keep the shirts in stock and we raised a ton of money for the foundation,” Spangenberg said. “And it was an example of how we were laying the foundation to be doing more than just selling T-shirts and hats.”

That success led to partnerships with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phoenix Mercury and the Phoenix Suns, as well as fundraising collaborations with other organizations including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the Arizona Humane Society and the W. P. Carey School of Business.

But as the company grew, there were challenges too.

“We have three equal business partners and that’s a huge blessing because you see different perspectives, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say we had disagreements,” Spangenberg said. “And when you’re young, there’s a lot of pride involved and you have to put that aside.”

The three were able to pour all the revenues back into the company before finally leaving their day jobs to become full-time State Forty Eight employees, which the two brothers did before Spangenberg.

“I wanted to be there full time and that’s where those communication barriers came into play. I would try to catch up after work and they’d be tired of me texting at midnight,” he said.

“The sexy thing to do is to go for it but that’s not the real world. It’s OK to have a side hustle until it’s a full-time hustle. It allowed us to grow.”

The company now has 15 employees, with seven full time. And they’re still learning how to run a business efficiently.

“It’s hard to have those honest conversations but now we have weekly meetings on Tuesdays that we don’t miss,” said Spangenberg, who still personally runs the State Forty Eight social media accounts.

“When you don’t have meetings, things build up and then you talk over text and that’s how things get misperceived. It seems simple but it’s been a huge help.”

The collaborations have doubled State Forty Eight’s online revenue and now the company sells other branded merchandise, including stickers, glassware, bags and socks. It recently launched a co-branded credit card and set up two retail locations, in Gilbert and at the Churchill in downtown Phoenix. In the future, Spangenberg would like to see a State Forty Eight license plate and maybe a sports travel group.

“Twenty years from now, everyone at the Diamondbacks games will be a Diamondbacks fan and be proud of where they’re from,” he said.

“And we want to be the face of Arizona.”

Top image: Michael Spangenberg describes the journey of State Forty Eight, the company he co-founded, at the Economic Club of Phoenix luncheon on Wednesday, where he accepted the Spirit of Enterprise Award. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU-inspired lake marks 20 years

ASU architecture classes of 1967 and '68 first began drawing up plans for lake.
More than 2 million people visit Tempe Town Lake annually.
November 12, 2019

Dignitaries celebrate effort that brought Tempe Town Lake to life; revitalized riverbed sparks inspiration for Valleywide project

The Salt River Valley has always revolved around two things: the sun above and the river below.

Hohokam children played on the banks of the Salt and ate fish caught in weirs and corn and squash nourished by the water. Centuries later, settlers unearthed the native canals and irrigated their own crops. A ferry moved farmers, swindlers and gunfighters across the waters from Tempe to Phoenix.

But the river proved to be too violent and unpredictable during the monsoon, whipping around the Valley floor like a snake in a shoebox. To count on it, it had to be brought under control with a dam.

For almost 90 years, the waters ran into the canals. The riverbed dried. Cities turned their back on it, using it as a gravel pit and dump.

Now the river is being embraced again. The cornerstone of that effort, Tempe Town Lake, celebrated its 20th anniversary last week with dignitaries celebrating the massive effort that brought it back to life.

More than 2 million people visit the lake annually. More than 30,000 people live within a mile of its shores. More than 42,000 people work within a mile of the lake at companies such as State Farm Insurance, Amazon, Microsoft and Silicon Valley Bank.

It’s Arizona’s second most popular public attraction, generating nearly $2 billion in economic impact since its opening.

“Anybody who drives past Tempe Town Lake realizes what a success this is,” the late Sen. John McCain said two years ago. “Every mayor wants a Tempe Town Lake. … We want to make this an example to the rest of the state, as well as the nation.”

But revitalization dates back much further than 20 years, to Arizona State University’s College of Architecture in the mid-1960s under Dean James Elmore.

ASU’s Wellington “Duke” Reiter, senior adviser to the president and executive director of the University City Exchange, explained at the celebration Friday the university’s role in creating the lake.

Reiter quoted the last line of the university’s charter: “assuming fundamental responsibility for … the communities it serves.

“I can’t think of a project that better demonstrates that,” he said, citing the architecture classes of 1967 and 1968 who first started drawing up plans.

The classes created designs to control flooding, restore the environment and lead to more recreation and economic development.

“They did what students should do: imagine the possible, even if it seemed far-fetched,” Reiter said. “What they got right is that it could be something of significance.”

Tempe Town Lake came about through a massive effort by elected and community leaders; multiple state, county and federal government agencies; and partnerships with institutions including Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service and ASU.

Now an even larger cohort stretching the length of the Valley is working on revitalizing the entire river. McCain wanted the project as his legacy. Now ASU students from across the university’s various schools are working on a 55-plus-mile imagining of what the river can be.

“You won’t see surface water for 50 miles, but you will see the revitalization of the river in various communities, based on what those communities would like to have,” Reiter said. “What that shows is the fortunes of cities and universities are inextricably linked.”

RELATED: 'Rio Reimagined' kicks off public launch

Top photo: A view of Tempe Town Lake and the Tempe Center for the Arts at the start of the lake’s 20th anniversary celebration on Nov. 8. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU experts help drive Arizona Town Hall project on helping families thrive

ASU experts contribute to town hall on 'Strong Families, Thriving Children'
November 12, 2019

Annual nonpartisan convention tackles issue of child welfare in Arizona

Arizona has seen some improvements in child welfare, but the gains are not equal for all groups — and that's an issue that the state must face, according to Judy Krysik, director of the Center for Child Well-Being at Arizona State University.

Krysik, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at ASU, was one of the main authors of the recent “Strong Families, Thriving Children” report, sponsored by Arizona Town Hall and produced by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU.

The report is the background document for the upcoming Arizona Town Hall event, a three-day gathering devoted to the topic of “Strong Families, Thriving Children.” Arizona Town Hall is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1962 that educates and connects people around the state to solve problems. Every year, the organization chooses a topic and travels around Arizona, holding community meetings to collect feedback on the issue. The year culminates in a big town hall gathering, to be held Thursday through Saturday this week.

The report covers several aspects of family health in Arizona, and Krysik wrote the chapter on child welfare. One of the main takeaways is inequity.

“The good news is that there are a lot of improvements. The bad news is it’s not across the board,” she said.

“It didn’t matter which indicator we looked at — there are disproportionate outcomes with race and ethnicity. Poverty is one, health insurance, low birth weight, infant mortality.”

For example, the percentage of children living in poverty in Arizona decreased from 26% in 2013 to 21% in 2017. But 45% of American Indian children in Arizona lived in poverty in 2017, up from 41% the year before.

“On the one hand we can celebrate and on the other hand we can say, ‘We’re not done.' We’ve made positive gains but those gains aren’t realized equally across the board.”

Arizona Town Hall topics over the past few years included criminal justice, K-12 education, water and relations with Mexico. Those also included input by ASU experts. The Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU produced the town hall background research report. It was edited by Erica Quintana, policy analyst for the Morrison Institute, who authored the multiyear, five-part research project on childhood neglect released last year.

“Arizona Town Hall reached out to me because the topic was child welfare, and they asked if I could identify experts in the field to author different pieces of the report,” Quintana said.

“I was able to highlight the fact that from the neglect analysis, we saw that domestic violence and substance abuse were things that Arizona families are struggling with, and children are being removed from families based on those experiences. So we were able to advise the research committee that chapters on those two specific areas should be included.”

As part of its annual process, Arizona Town Hall traveled to more than 20 locations around the state, including college campuses and prisons, from Yuma to Pinetop. Every community meeting came up with a list of recommendations to improve family health, such as “make schools a hub for family services,” and “provide transportation for families to visit prisons.” One part of each town hall event was, “What I would tell Arizona’s elected leaders.” Answers to that included: “Walk the city and the streets and take the bus,” and, “Be more transparent with where our taxpayer money goes and show us tangible results.”

Every single town hall urged state leaders to give more funding to education.

Another important point that Krysik pointed out in her chapter is the changing birth rate in Arizona, which had the steepest decline in the nation, falling from 16.4 births per 1,000 population in 2006 to 13 per 1,000 in 2014. There were 102,687 births in 2007 compared with about 81,000 in 2017.

“That was one thing that surprised me and I don’t know how many people realize it,” she said.

“I don’t think we’ve fully explored what that means and where those decreases occurred. So if it’s among higher-income families, will it mean we have the same number of families with a lot of needs, or is it across the board?”

Besides Krysik, ASU experts David Schlinkert and Eric Legg contributed chapters.

Schlinkert, policy analyst for the Morrison Institute, described how Arizona has resettled more than 17,000 refugees since 2014 and how those families face additional hurdles to getting support, such as language and cultural barriers and lack of medical documentation.

Legg, an assistant professor in the School of Community Resources and Development at ASU, wrote about enrichment activities that help families thrive, such as youth sports, library story times and teen recreation programs such as robotics. Cost can be a barrier for some families, and Legg pointed out programs that can help, such as Act One, which provides fine arts experiences, and the Phoenix Public Library’s kindergarten boot camp.

Other chapters were written by experts from the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, the Arizona Department of Child Safety and nonprofit organizations. They cover topics such as protective factors for families, American Indian families and adverse childhood experiences, which are traumatic events such as the incarceration of a parent that lead to lifelong consequences.

The report also highlights “bright spots,” such as the decrease in teen pregnancy rates and the ASU Refugee Empowerment Project.

“A lot of times when you talk about social issues, it’s all doom and gloom,” Quintana said. “And we’re all very aware in this field that it’s important, when you can, to highlight those bright spots — collaboration and other things that are occurring. I think the general public hears more of the doom and gloom, but there is progress being made.”

She pointed to the work of the Morrison Institute, which next week will unveil a new mapping tool that highlights risks and services in rural communities in Arizona. The project will be discussed at the institute’s State of Our State event on Nov. 25.

“The goal is to identify those communities that struggle with social issues and then show the services they have available and try to identify communities that might need more,” she said.

The 112th Statewide Arizona Town Hall will be held Thursday through Saturday at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel in Phoenix and is open to the public as observers.

Top image by Pixabay

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


2nd annual Social Cohesion Dialogue takes deep dive into America’s complex histories

November 12, 2019

What is the nature of social justice? How can each of us take action in a way that is responsible to the whole community? What does it mean to be on lands that have been defined by profound and divergent histories?

These are a few of the questions that have risen to the top in the 10 facilitated ASU and community discussion groups in the weeks leading up to this year’s ASU Social Cohesion Dialogue, to be held Thursday, Nov. 14 at the Arizona State University Tempe campus. Authors and activists Dina Gilio-Whitaker and Robert W. Lee Acclaimed authors and activists Dina Gilio-Whitaker and Robert W. Lee are featured guests for the 2019 ASU Social Cohesion Dialogue, on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. in the Carson Ballroom at Old Main on the ASU Tempe campus. Download Full Image

The event features acclaimed activists Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes), indigenous educator and author of the groundbreaking work on the ecocide against Native peoples, "As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock”; and Rev. Robert W. Lee, collateral descendant of the Confederate general whose name he shares, and author of the memoir, "A Sin By Any Other Name: Reckoning with Racism and the Heritage of the South."

Selected for their ability to dialogue with diverse participants on critical contemporary and historical issues and challenging topics of racism, privilege, resistance and justice, the authors will first engage in a conversation with Lois Brown, ASU Foundation Professor of English and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, and then in an open Q&A with audience members.

For the 200-some people who participated in the pre-event book discussion groups led by ASU faculty and community leaders, that conversation is already well underway.

"Our authors are keen to talk with each other and with members of our ASU and Arizona communities," Brown noted. "These books have already prompted powerful changes in our ASU and Arizona readers. Some have found the details about American environmental history devastating and so many in our book groups have revealed the powerful ways in which both books are calling them to consider more bravely than ever the difficult truths about entrenched and pervasive histories of racism and division."

With many participants expected to attend Thursday’s event, the inquiry and reflection should be richer than what can usually be accomplished in a two-hour public dialogue, she added, though one need not have read the books in advance to attend.  

Book groups have been a defining feature of the Social Cohesion Dialogue program since its inception in February 2019. Created by Stanlie James, vice provost for Community Engagement and Inclusion, as part of ASU's Campaign 2020, the Social Cohesion Dialogue is committed to engaging audiences in meaningful and inspiring conversation with each other. This year, the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy added three book group discussion sessions in the Phoenix community. Held in South Phoenix at Azukar Coffee, in downtown Phoenix at the Phoenix Youth Hostel and Cultural Center and in Tempe at the public library, these sessions were well-attended and enthusiastically received.

“The books have motivated a lot of good conversation in the greater ASU community,” said Duane Roen, dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and ASU Polytechnic campus vice provost, who co-facilitated a book discussion at that campus with Chandra Crudup, faculty fellow in the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and associate director and lecturer in the School of Social Work.

“People are finding all sorts of touch points that resonate with them in the perspectives of two people who have quite different lived experiences," observed Roen. "Both are courageous and committed individuals, using their unique experiences to explore the concepts and responsibilities called for in true environmental and social justice.”

The Social Cohesion Dialogue is free and open to the public and a book signing with the authors will follow the conversation and Q&A. The event begins at 6 p.m. in the Carson Ballroom of Old Main, on the ASU Tempe campus. Register at Eventbrite.

The 2019 Social Cohesion Dialogue is coordinated by the College of Integrative Sciences and Art’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, in collaboration with the ASU Office of the University Provost, Office of Inclusion and Community Engagement, and American Indian Studies. 

Maureen Roen

Manager, Creative Services, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


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ASU spawns Arizona’s ‘Wing King’

November 8, 2019

Luke Air Force Base commander’s flight path started as a Sun Devil

Todd Canterbury not only followed in his father’s footsteps, he practically mirrored them.

Both men chose careers in the Air Force. Both became fighter pilots. And in June 2018, Canterbury became commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base west of Phoenix — a position previously held by his father, Maj. Gen. Henry Canterbury, from 1982 to 1984 — the first and only father-son combination to hold base commanding positions at Luke.

Canterbury is eternally thankful to his father for the introduction to Arizona and to Arizona State University, his alma mater. 

“I jokingly say I never made it out of the A’s when searching for a college,” said Canterbury, who is a brigadier general and in charge of training the largest fighter wing in the Air Force, whose mission is to train fighter pilots and combat-ready airmen. “I looked at the Air Force Academy, Auburn and ASU. I chose ASU because they had what I wanted to study.”

What Canterbury wanted was a degree in aeronautical engineering, but he said he received so much more. He forged lasting friendships with other students, got addicted to the weather, cheered on the football team, gorged on Mexican food at the Dash Inn and enjoyed leisurely strolls down Palm Walk.

“I’m walking down Palm Walk and thought, why isn’t every university like this?” Canterbury said.

What Canterbury liked best about ASU were the leadership skills he developed as a result of his involvement in ROTC and fraternity life.

“We did a lot of philanthropic events in the Greek system, and I’d get 70 guys to get up at 6 a.m. to clean a park,” said Canterbury, who was a member of Delta Tau Delta. “I learned about motivating and creating cohesive teams through my Greek experience.”

“Todd is the type of person that people are naturally drawn to because he’s happy, positive, charismatic and a people person. He was always the center of the group,” said John Moran, who was in ROTC with Canterbury and is currently a pilot for Delta Airlines. “His success doesn’t come as a surprise to me. He’s excelled in everything he’s done.”

Military upbringing

What was not Greek to Canterbury was the Air Force life. He was literally born into it.

“My earliest memory of my father is bringing home an F-4 Phantom II all the way back from Vietnam,” Canterbury said. “It was just a powerful experience. So I knew that I wanted to be around airplanes.”

Planes were one of the few constants in his travels as his father was stationed around the world, including Germany, Great Britain, California, North Carolina, Texas, Florida and Arizona — the first time in 1982.

Canterbury arrived here as a sixth grader at Luke Elementary School in Glendale, Arizona. It was a different time and place. The Valley wasn’t the bustling major metropolitan city it is today, and Luke was an isolated air base in a predominantly agricultural area. Phoenix lacked a freeway system, so driving to other municipalities was a chore.

“In the West Valley you had to drive through miles and miles of either farm field or land that was dead,” Canterbury recalled. “When I played Little League baseball, he had to drive 25 minutes to get to the first McDonald's because that’s what every kid does after every game.”

Two years later, the family moved on to the next tour of duty.

Canterbury never complained about the moves or, for that matter, worried about following in his father’s footsteps.

“Todd showed an interest in flying at a young age and saw a lot of Air Force activity growing up, but me and his mother always encouraged him to do what he wanted to do,” said Henry Canterbury, who lives in Litchfield Park and still flies in his 70s. “It wasn’t that he was trying to follow me in my career, because he was dedicated to becoming a fighter pilot all of own doing.”

Canterbury entered the Air Force after graduating from ASU in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical engineering technology. His ascension in the service was as quick and steep as one of his takeoffs. Trained as a fighter pilot on the F-15 Strike Eagle and MC-12 Liberty aircraft, Canterbury logged approximately 4,200 hours of flight time, with 650 of those coming in combat, including in operations Northern Watch and Enduring Freedom.

He has also served as a weapons school instructor, Thunderbird demonstration pilot, fighter squadron commander and wing commander. But he said there’s a special connection between pilots and their machinery.

“The connection between a fighter pilot and their aircraft is a truly unique one not experienced in a lot of other flying careers,” Canterbury said. “Flying thousands of feet high, with $100 million of sophisticated technology wrapped around you, it’s hard not to feel one with the aircraft.”

Back to the Valley of the Sun

His most recent assignment before coming back to Arizona was as the director of the F-35 Integration Office in the Pentagon.

Canterbury’s current assignment as Luke’s “Wing King” is his most important one yet, said retired Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, former commanding general, now a senior adviser to both ASU President Michael Crow and the McCain Institute for International Leadership.

“I think it’s so exceptional that we have a Sun Devil commander at Luke Air Force Base who’s responsible for the most advanced technology in the world to be partnered with the most innovative university in the nation,” Freakley said. “Together we can help provide more opportunities for research, for students, for Air Force members to be as ready as they can be for the workforce. We’re very thankful for his service and his leadership.”

As part of Air Education and Training Command and home to 28 squadrons with both F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-35A Lightning II aircraft, Luke is the largest fighter wing in the Air Force and graduates more than 90 F-35 pilots, 150 F-16 pilots and 300 air control professionals annually. Canterbury’s other duties include overseeing Gila Bend Auxiliary Field and acting as steward of the Barry M. Goldwater Range, a military training range spanning roughly 1.7 million acres of the Sonoran Desert.  

Canterbury’s father said his son is an exceptional leader who oversees approximately 5,600 people as commander.

“He is a true leader because he’s out front and not afraid to show people the way and set an example,” said Henry Canterbury. “It’s a big job, but when you surround yourself with people who are capable, the job becomes quite rewarding. My son happens to be, in my opinion, a better executive leader than I was because he delegates authority and responsibilities much better than I did. He just has a knack for it.”

Todd Canterbury said the job comes with some perks that he’s now able to share with his two daughters, Kaitlyn and Haley.

“I’m sharing the same experiences with them that I had as a child,” Canterbury said. “I’m bringing them in to sit in the cockpit of an F-35, and hopefully it’s inspiring to them. What’s so neat is how it’s all come full circle.”

Now at the peak of his Air Force career, Canterbury is reflective — and thankful — for his success. He said he ascended because he was a good airman. 

“I don’t ask questions. I say ‘When, where and let’s go,’” Canterbury said. “The Air Force prepares you to do anything that our nation needs. We are taught integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.”

Student writer Emma VandenEinde contributed to this article.

Top photo: Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury does a preflight check before his F-35 exercise mission on Nov. 6 at Luke Air Force Base. Canterbury, like his father, Maj. Gen. Henry Canterbury, is the commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke. The younger Canterbury earned his undergraduate degree from ASU in aeronautical engineering technology in 1992. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU scholars offer a spectrum of resources to local and state tribes

November 7, 2019

‘Doing Research in Indian Country’ conference showcases university's research in Indian Country

Some of the most innovative and groundbreaking research at Arizona State University is taking place in indigenous communities and on reservations around the Copper State and beyond.

“Tribal nations and communities are becoming more and more interested and embedded in the research process in its entirety, from the research design and implementation to large questions of data use and ownership. More importantly, they are engaged in the institutional review process,” said Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, President’s Professor, director of the Center for Indian Education and ASU’s special adviser to the president on American Indian Affairs. 

The university has a wide breadth of research and interaction taking place in Indian Country, which was showcased at the “Doing Research in Indigenous Communities” conference held Nov. 4-5 at ASU SkySong.

“Part of our work during this conference is to hear from these tribes and communities and to connect them with universities and researchers with the hopes that some synergies will emerge and so that researchers and institutions better understand the needs and wishes of tribes in the larger arena of research," Brayboy said.

Now in its third year, the conference featured more than 130 ASU scholars, researchers, staff and students making an impact in indigenous communities in the fields of history, health care, language preservation, molecular science, sustainability research methodologies and higher education experiences.

Keynote speaker Malia Villegas, who helped Brayboy with the conception and birthing of the conference several years ago, said it was like watching a child grow quickly.

“I think it’s phenomenal to see how this conference has taken off. ASU has proven they are leaders when it comes to Native American research and is a place that others look to for inspiration,” said Villegas, an enrolled member of the Native Village of Afognak in Alaska who serves as the vice president of community investments at Afognak Native Corporation, overseeing shareholder services. “Looking at this from a tribal industry lens, I’m excited to see business and industry people here, tribal members, students and faculty, all showcasing the great success across Indian Country and inviting people to take a look into the research space.”

There was no shortage of research to offer up, including a first-of-its kind look on technology use on Indian lands. The paper, “Tribal Technology Assessment: The State of Internet Service on Tribal Lands,” was released last month through the American Indian Policy InstituteThe American Indian Policy Institute is now a unit within the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. . It showed that many Native Americans do not have equal access to the internet and that most are using smartphones to go online, albeit at much slower speeds.

“This study gives us a clearer picture of what tribal connectivity looks like,” said Brian Howard, a research and policy analyst with the American Indian Policy Institute. “We also looked at things like affordability issues that would prevent tribal residents from accessing internet service.”

The study not only identified the issue but came up with several recommendations. They included a dedicated tribal office in the Federal Communications Commission with a permanent budget allocation, a Tribal Broadband Fund, prioritize funding for tribal lands and encouraging the FCC to engage with tribes and sovereign nations on the issue.

For Lance Sanchez, a 24-year-old member of the Tohono O’odham Nation and a senior at ASU, his focus is more on saving teen lives and getting them more socially and politically engaged.

Sanchez, who is double majoring in American Indian studies, and community advocacy and social policy, said Native Americans have the highest teen suicide rates in the country.

“I am looking for ways to empower youth through leadership building as well as creating different programs that focus on them bettering themselves within the community,” said Sanchez, who is also a member of the National Congress of American Indians Youth Commission and United National Indian Tribal Youth. “The work has paid off because Native Americans are now taking the charge in continuing with higher education. We need more Native teachers, lawyers, nurses, doctors and researchers. This conference helps create those partnerships in tribal communities.”

Denise Bates, assistant professor of leadership and interdisciplinary studies in the College of Integrative Science and Arts, is nation-building through her work by helping other tribes in the Southeast document their histories through community-driven initiatives.

“Many southern tribal communities have not been well documented, particularly during the 20th century,” Bates said. “Colonialism and racial segregation had a huge impact on southern indigenous peoples, and it has only been recently that many tribes from this region have been actively looking for opportunities to engage the public with their histories — and on their own terms.”

Bates has been working with the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana for the past decade through a variety of mediums, including accessing and digitizing archival material and recording oral histories. Bates has also a written book, “Basket Diplomacy,” (University of Nebraska Press, 2020), documenting how the Coushatta community worked together through multiple generations and leveraged opportunities so that existing and newly acquired knowledge, timing and skill worked in harmony to ensure their survival. The Coushatta is now one of the top private employers in Louisiana through their economic endeavors.

“ASU is an institution that has a lot of resources and helping other tribal nations should not be a regionally focused mission,” Bates said. “It impacts all of us because a lot of best practices often come up as a result of intertribal coalitions and support.”

In addition to nation-building, there was plenty of trust-building, said Bates. Last year ASU brought a Coushatta tribal elder and former chairman, Ernest Sickey, to the Valley to speak to faculty and staff. In return, Bates said, the Coushatta Tribe is encouraging their students to attend ASU.

“They know that ASU is a supportive place, one that not only supports its students but offers the potential to help tribal nations envision a future for their communities,” Bates said.

Top photo: Devin Hardin, with the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community Education Division, and others listen to speakers at the "Doing Research in Indigenous Communities" conference, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, at ASU SkySong. More than 130 people from around the state took part in the third annual conference featuring scholars, researchers, staff and students and their impact in indigenous communities in the fields of history, health care, language preservation, molecular science, sustainability research methodologies and higher education experiences. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU Now


Longtime supporter of ASU Law a positive force in the community

7th annual Gold 'n Gavel event to be held with support of Phoenix firm Beus Gilbert McGroder

November 6, 2019

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is hosting its seventh annual Gold ‘n Gavel event on Nov. 15, with the help of some of its top supporters. Chief among them is the Phoenix law firm Beus Gilbert McGroder, a longtime supporter of ASU and the law school.

Founded in 1982 by longtime friends Leo Beus and Paul Gilbert, the firm has risen to international acclaim and recently added a third named partner, Pat McGroder. The strong relationship with both ASU Law and ASU in general was borne out of Beus Gilbert McGroder’s commitment to character, which is reflected in both the firm’s personnel and clientele. photo of Beus Gilbert McGroder The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is hosting its seventh annual Gold ‘n Gavel event on Nov. 15 with the help of some of its top supporters. Chief among them is the Phoenix law firm Beus Gilbert McGroder, a longtime supporter of ASU and the law school. Download Full Image

“We're a firm that originally broke off from a larger firm, and we made a commitment early on to give very high-quality service and good bang for the buck,” Gilbert said. “We have a policy of only hiring the very best lawyers, and we're very careful about not only who we hire but also who we represent. We are thrilled with the recent addition of Pat, who is the premier personal-injury lawyer in probably all of the United States.”

McGroder says he is honored to join a firm whose “reputation is unmatched” and has set “the standard of care” in commercial litigation, along with Beus and Gilbert’s expertise in zoning, real estate transactions and development, and now catastrophic injury and wrongful death.

“And those aren’t just buzzwords,” McGroder said. “The historic results achieved by Paul and Leo speak to a practice of law that is highly respected. Other lawyers seek to emulate the type of quality, integrity, character and competence that Paul and Leo have exemplified for over four decades.”

Relationship with ASU

Gilbert describes the firm’s relationship with ASU as extremely close and says it extends to all facets of the university.

photo of 2018 scholarship luncheon

Leo Beus (at center) with ASU Law alumnus Eric Cardenas (left) and ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester at the fifth annual Scholarship Luncheon in October 2018.

“We have tremendous respect for both ASU in general, the law school and for President Crow in particular,” Gilbert said. “We are thrilled with his leadership and consider him to be the most dynamic, resourceful and creative college president in the United States.”

A deep relationship with ASU Law involves support for a wide range of activities, serving on various panels, and working closely with Dean Douglas Sylvester. And in 2016, the law school moved from its longtime home on the Tempe campus to a new, state-of-the-art facility in downtown Phoenix, which is named the Beus Center for Law and Society in honor of a generous donation from Leo Beus and his wife, Annette.

The firm hosts a meeting of the ASU deans every six weeks called the ASU Leaders Lunch and is actively involved in supporting the university with everything from fundraising to athletics. McGroder, who has been with the firm for just over a year, says the affinity and affection for ASU is evident throughout the firm.

“Between Paul, Leo and myself, what adorns our walls are diplomas from BYU, Michigan, California, Notre Dame — none of us attended ASU,” he said. “But what has struck me is the enormity of respect and commitment that Paul, Leo and the firm have shown to ASU. And why? Because they believe that education, quality education, is really the key to the future of our country. So what has impressed me has been their commitment to ASU, which is not just philanthropic nor just hosting meetings, but their genuine commitment to this fabulous institution.”

Gilbert says ASU is a major component of the metro Phoenix community and has played a significant role in the revitalization of downtown Phoenix.

photo of asu law official groundbreaking

Leo and Annette Beus speak at the official groundbreaking for ASU’s law school building in downtown Phoenix in 2014.

“And an integral part of that is, of course, the law school,” he said. “The law school provides a great deal of stability, resources and credibility to the legal community. Having a first-rate law school helps in a myriad of ways. It helps attract first-rate law students from all over the nation, as well as ASU. Having the strong ASU faculty to provide leadership and guidance in the legal community is a significant asset. And ASU Law does a tremendous job of reaching out and working with the bar and the legal community. There's a very symbiotic relationship between the legal community and the law school. So the law school contributes in a significant and major way to the quality of the legal community in Arizona.”

With a notable record of success, the firm receives many solicitations for financial support. But support for ASU remains a top priority.

“There are many good causes out there,” Gilbert said. “We get bombarded with them every day. But our firm has decided to prioritize ASU. That's a cause we deeply believe in and champion, and we make it our first priority as far as doing work outside the technical practicing of law.”

Making a positive impact

The partners at Beus Gilbert McGroder have enjoyed gratifying careers, helping clients achieve justice and bring visions to life. But the legal world is not without its challenges, and they see opportunity for improvements throughout the industry and judicial system.

Gilbert notes the imbalances in the scales of justice, both in terms of access and the criminal justice system as a whole.

photo of Leo Beus at ASP

Leo Beus sits down with admitted students at ASU Law's Admitted Students Program in December 2018.

“I think a real challenge is making legal services affordable and making legal services available to the population in general, and not just those that are wealthy and can afford to hire lawyers,” he said. “Another challenge is that we don't have a criminal system that works. Right now, the whole system is broken, and I think the legal profession needs to help lead the way in mending the many problems that exist.”

And the ability to bring about change, to help people, has made their careers so rewarding. McGroder says achieving justice for clients goes beyond financial compensation — it restores dignity. And individual victories can play a role in strengthening the social architecture.

“We have the ability to make sure that there are changes, remedial changes, that these types of things don't happen again,” he said. “And we're able to do that in a way that reflects the best of us as human beings, but equally important, have a tremendous impact on our fellow citizens to ensure that safety, health and dignity are all in the forefront of what we do. We have the ability to do the right thing, and in doing the right thing, we change lives and ensure that lives are better moving forward. And to me, I couldn't ask for a better calling.”

McGroder says the impact of the firm, “the footprint of Paul and Leo,” is evident throughout the Valley and state, whether it be through the practice of law, philanthropy or volunteer work.

“In any of those facets, the volunteer commitment of Paul, Leo, and hopefully myself is unmatched in the legal community, whether it be sitting on boards, philanthropy, pro bono work, whatever the case may be,” he said. “I think that this firm stands for all the best that can be said about our profession.”

Tickets for the seventh annual Gold ’n Gavel Auction and Reception are available here. All proceeds support ASU Law student programs and scholarships.

Nicole Almond Anderson

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law


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Regents' Cup to showcase state university students debating free speech issues

State university students to debate free speech in new Regents' Cup competition.
November 5, 2019

Competition among ASU, NAU, UArizona teams to include storytelling, civil dialogue

Update: Arizona State University undergraduates Valielza O’Keefe, a physics major, and Joshua Pardhe, a computer systems engineering major, won first place at the inaugural Regents' Cup competition on Nov. 16. Read more here.

Winners of the inaugural Regents Cup debate tournament with the trophy

ASU students Valielza O’Keefe and Joshua Pardhe with the Regents' Cup after their win Saturday.

In this era of political divisiveness, social media amplification and “cancel culture,” how can people talk reasonably about tough topics?

Students from Arizona’s three public universities have been working on this issue for months and next week will participate in a series of intellectual competitions aimed at elevating respectful and effective communication.

The inaugural Regents' Cup will be held Nov. 16 at the University of Arizona, and the student teams from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona have been preparing all semester.

“The Regents' Cup is really a way to celebrate free speech and civil dialogue,” said Bonnie Wentzel, director of the Communication Lab at ASU, which is helping the ASU teams prepare.

“People give that lip service all the time, but it’s something we practice every day as part of being inclusive. You have to be willing to listen to another perspective or opinion besides your own.”

Karrin Taylor Robson, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents and an alumna of ASU, envisioned the competition as a way to encourage democratic engagement. She hopes the event will showcase Arizona universities' commitment to free speech.

University students applied last spring and will compete in two-person teams. The competition will involve four events covering the general theme of free speech and will focus on listening as well as speaking. The events are:

Civil Dialogue: This is a formatted but spontaneous method of face-to-face communication that was developed at ASU. It involves audience interaction. The teams find out the topic 30 minutes before the start of the event. Judges are looking for the effective use of listening and the use of non-argumentative language.

Solutions: Teams are assigned a position to either support or refute a solution having to do with defamation and social media. Judges want to see the teams working together to clearly and effectively support their position.

Persuasive storytelling: One student from each team will tell a 10-minute personal story about the role of social media in free speech. The storyteller will be judged on content, emotion and effective persuasion.

Oxford-style debate: This is a traditional, competitive debate format in which teams have an opening statement, cross examination and closing argument.

All teams will compete in the civil dialogue, solutions and storytelling competitions in the morning, and the three teams with the highest scores will then move on to the Oxford-style debate rounds in the afternoon, which is open to the public. The winning teams will be awarded scholarship money.

ASU is sending six teams, with one alternate team, to the Regents' Cup. They have spent the semester practicing at CommLabASU, whose mentors are perfectly suited to prepare them, Wentzel said. CommLabASU, located at the West campus, helps students and faculty hone their public speaking skills.

“The mentors are trained to be civil communicators by really listening, and they have to be able to say, ‘Here’s where your message needs organizing,' or 'Here’s where you need a story,’” she said. “They have to be able to cut through ‘I don’t like what you’re saying but I appreciate your right to say it.’

“What’s great about this is that we’re trying to help people find their own voice and discuss controversial things by focusing on the topics without tearing down another person.”

Students have been doing months of research into free speech topics and have been working on their communication skills. At a recent rehearsal, they practiced debating for 60 seconds and were interrupted with a bell every time they said “um.”

“They have to manage their nonverbals, which is everything besides the actual words — pitch, body position, facial expressions,” Wentzel said. “We lose that as we’re always looking down at our phones.”

Joshua Pardhe, a computer systems engineering major at ASU, found out about the competition through Barrett, The Honors College, and decided to participate because it’s not just a straightforward debate.

“It has these other elements that are overlooked in a debate competition,” he said.

“You’re not just graded on how well you can debate a topic but how well you can convey a story.”

Pardhe will be the storyteller for his team, and believes the skill he’s developing will help in his career.

“I want to start my own business, and one of the things you need to know is how to convey a story and present a problem effectively to investors,” he said.

The teams also have been working with ASU faculty.

“The preparation with the mentors is really in-depth and informative, and every time we meet to do research or practice, it’s very hands-on,” Pardhe said.

Eliana Lara, a junior majoring in political science and Spanish at NAU, had honed her public speaking skills when she was student body president at Maryvale High School in Phoenix. She decided to apply for the Regents' Cup at the urging of a favorite professor.

She was also drawn to the format.

“Oxford is more old school but civil dialogue, storytelling and solutions are not so aggressive, where you have to pinpoint what they say and win the argument,” she said.

“It’s more about hearing what the other side is saying and understanding. You get more of a chance to listen.”

Ashley Fredde is a senior majoring in journalism at the University of Arizona, where she’s captain of the debate team. Several of the team’s members are on the Regents' Cup team.

“I’m passionate about social issues and civil discourse, which is why I joined the debate team, and as a journalist I’m passionate about free speech,” she said.

“This format has required us to switch from being argumentative to taking a step back and listening to other viewpoints. We’ve gone from building up arguments to listening to others and even agreeing with them.”

She’s also enjoyed the storytelling.

“Some of the stories are really impactful and you get to see a different side of your teammates,” she said. “It’s definitely brought us closer together as a team.”

Lauren Beethe, a graduate student in communication studies, is the ASU coordinator of the Regents' Cup and is a graduate student director of CommLabASU. Her master’s degree focuses on advocacy.

“The goal of advocacy is to communicate issues, whether in social movements or technology, as a way of building a bridge between issues and solutions in a way that is beneficial to both parties, but is civil and doesn’t breed distance between the two groups,” said Beethe, who focuses on biometric surveillance policy.

She’s gratified that the Regents' Cup has drawn students from across ASU’s campuses and from a variety of majors.

“It’s teaching these different disciplines that these tools are relevant and can help a student who studies political science communicate with an engineering student in a way that’s meaningful and that can focus on issues greater than academics,” she said.

“Communicating ethically brings back the humanity to these topics that have lost that element,” she said.

“Communicating is the art form of humanity.”

Top image: A student holds a debate prompt during the ASU Regents’ Cup team practice at CommLabASU at West campus on Nov. 1. Student teams from ASU will compete against students from the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University in storytelling, debate, solutions and civil dialogue. Part of the competition, the Oxford debate, will be open to the public at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at McLelland Hall, Eller College of Management, at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


New exhibit shares rich history of African American communities in Arizona

Exhibit aims to document through cross-generational connections what official records omit

November 1, 2019

Between 1910 and 1970, the African American population of Arizona grew from 2,000 to over 54,000, according to a new exhibit on display at Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change Innovation Gallery.

This growth was part of the Great Migration, during which more than 6 million African Americans moved from the rural American South to the cities of the North, Midwest and West. A collection of photos and artwork courtesy of Rodney Grimes, C.A. Hammons; Dorthea Lange, National Archives and Records Administration Photos and artwork courtesy of Rodney Grimes, C.A. Hammons, Dorthea Lange, National Archives and Records Administration. Download Full Image

Yet cultural, economic and political systems of that time often obscured the stories and accomplishments of those who migrated here from popular narratives about who Arizonans were and the lives they led.

Titled “The Great Migration: Indiscernables in Arizona,” the exhibit aims to help dismantle that marginalization through community partnerships, artistic expressions and social scientific research. It brought together a dozen Valley students to connect with elders in the community for face-to-face conversations where they used anthropological methodologies to collect oral histories and curate personal artifacts.

Those individual experiences were then woven together to create a more complete accounting of the migration and life afterward: of survival in spite of oppression and of the establishment of rich and enduring communities in the Valley — a legacy continues.

The exhibit’s organizers — Meskerem Glegziabher, clinical assistant professor and director for inclusion and community engagement at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and C. A. Hammons, artist and founder of Emancipation Arts, a community arts organization which aims to honor enslaved ancestors through arts practices and public historical education — shared with ASU Now an insider perspective on the story behind its creation.

Question: What is Emancipation Arts? How and when did it start? 

C. A. Hammons: I am a black artist who grew up in the downtown area of segregated Phoenix. I am also a writer, poet, activist, educator and prevention specialist. My special call is as a community builder and I have been fortunate enough to work in collaboration with numerous artists, organizations and individuals while being mindful of honoring my ancestors.

Emancipation Arts is a community organization that started in 2003 as a response to the lack of inclusiveness in public arts and a desire to participate locally.

Our mission is to raise the profile of black artists in Arizona and honor our African and enslaved ancestors through measurably influencing, constructively impacting and fortifying underserved, at-risk or neglected populations, with particular focus on African American, African and Caribbean immigrant and African refugee communities in Maricopa County, through arts and egalitarian collaborations. Our motto is “I promise you will learn what schools will not teach.” 

I have also organized many exhibitions, community engagements, concert events and activities over the years but the medium and method of each depend on what I am trying to say. We just opened another exhibit called “The Spillover Effect,” at Modified Arts in downtown Phoenix, and we also have the Emancipation Marathon, a literary marathon that will be 24 years old this June.

A photo of , organizers of “The Great Migration: Indiscernables in Arizona” exhibit

C. A. Hammons (left) and Meskerem Glegziabher (right)

Q: How did the idea for the Great Migration collaboration begin to take shape?

Meskerem Glegziabher: We met two years ago at a monthly storytelling event called Vinyl Voices, where community members share stories and songs on vinyl to a live audience. The theme for that particular month was black migration to Arizona and Emancipation Arts hosted it.

We originally collaborated around another initiative called the Citywide Black Student Union because I was interested in bringing in students of color (especially black and Latinx) to ASU’s Open Door event to talk to them about potential careers in anthropology and global health.

CH: I have been writing a manuscript about the Great Migration and being an indiscernible in Arizona for a number of years and gradually shared some of it with Meskerem. Her curiosity and training as an anthropologist made it a fit because she could recognize the veracity of my assertions.

Q: Why was ASU and the SHESC Innovation Gallery a good temporary home for the exhibit?

MG: It was clear to me that my training in ethnographic research was something I could contribute as we looked to pair high school students with seniors for oral history interviews.

I was also having discussions at the time with our school’s director, Kaye Reed, about ways that the school could be more engaged with local communities and I was convinced the institutional support that we could provide — in terms of exhibit venue, production, etc. — could help bring to life this important project.

Q: How did your work and research at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change inform or overlap with the exhibit?

MG: In my role, I apply my qualitative research training in sociocultural anthropology and intersectional feminist thought to build sustainable relationships with local communities and community-based organizations, particularly those historically marginalized and underrepresented.

My research looks at how intersections of identity, such as race, class, gender and ability, result in particular types of marginalization and how these have very tangible and even physical impacts. I also study how mainstream narratives perpetuate marginalization and structural inequities and ways that, at a micro-scale, we can disrupt, mitigate or at least expose inequities.

This informs and overlaps with the historic experiences of African American Arizonans, who have been excluded from mainstream narratives of the state's history, but are pushing back against marginalization and erasure. 

Q: What did the nature of each of your contributions look like?

CH: Essentially, the foundation grew from a quest to “honor my ancestors” as recommended by a Yoruba priest. Of necessity, the research, writing and paintings grew from my own family history and local experiences in recognition of the fact that as, a black Arizonan, I have been excluded from the narrative of the state’s history. 

Workspace, funding and access have frequently been barriers to this work and other projects, so I have had to use my own funds and maintain a level of tenacity.

MG: I provided a workshop to give a background and train the students in how to conduct oral history interviews, did archival research to provide a larger context about the history of black migration and residence in Arizona, analyzed the interviews for striking quotes and condensed the archival research into the text for the exhibit panels.

The biggest challenge I faced was finding primary sources that provided information on the lives of average African Americans in Arizona in the early 20th century. The limited archival resources available tended to focus on either a handful of prominent families or institutions. So having firsthand accounts from elders in the community provided a unique opportunity to fill in some of those gaps. 

Q: How many people were ultimately involved in and contributed to the project?

MG: Roughly 20 students and seniors contributed to the oral history and visual content. Two teachers at South Mountain High School, which has historically had a large African American student body, Fernando Sanchez and Bryan Willingham, presented the project to their students and recruited participants. The participating seniors were recruited from the extensive local networks Emancipation Art has.

CH: Many other people have supported this “obsession” as well. Asian Pacific Community in Action allowed us to use their conference room, filmmaker Bruce Nelson helped us prep students for their conversations by showing the film “Northtown” about segregated Mesa, and Donald R. Guillory — an instructor in ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts — donated signed copies of his book “The Token Black Guide” to students. These are just some of the ways community have helped.

MG: With all these individuals plus our core team, I would estimate around 35 total people were involved. We worked on it consistently for about one-and-a-half years, so actual research and production hours would be around 1,500 to 2,000.

A photo of

C. A. Hammons with exhibit contributor and Arizona’s “King of the Blues” Big Pete Pearson.

Q: Is there any one piece that has special significance, symbolism or stands out to you the most?

CH: Probably the photo of my siblings and I as small children. One of my sisters passed away, but it makes me feel that she is with the ancestors smiling about the fact that blacks in Arizona will be acknowledged throughout the state and black children in classrooms throughout can hold their heads up.

MG: I think the different items featured have their own significance, but I think perhaps the most striking to me is the federal government's Home Owners' Loan Corporation "redlining" map of Phoenix from 1940. The area descriptions by local real estate professionals are so explicitly racist and classist that it provides a clear pushback against common narratives that Arizona provided a safe haven and fresh start for those fleeing the Jim Crow South. 

Q: What do you hope people think about, feel and take away with them after viewing the exhibit?

CH: People will begin to scrutinize local history presentations that profess to present Arizona history yet acknowledge that blacks are excluded, and join us in rectifying those exclusions and bringing some integrity to historical presentations.

MG: I would like them to think about their own migration stories, how they or their families came to live in Arizona, and to walk away with the knowledge that the Valley has a rich and robust African American history, even if the population size is small. I would also like people, particularly African Americans, to feel proud in the knowledge that despite the marginalization and hurdles they have and continue to experience, they have also managed to build a resilient and thriving community here.

Q: What future programming will be in the Innovation Gallery after this exhibit?

MG: (School of Human Evolution and Social Change) exhibit developer Marco Albarran is working on a project for next semester with postdoctoral research associate Katherine Dungan called "Revealing Artifacts."

The goal for future Innovation Gallery exhibits is to design them all as traveling exhibits so that they can reach a larger audience beyond their tenure here. “The Great Migration: Indiscernables in Arizona,” will serve as a model for that. After December, Emancipations Arts will move it to the Rosson House at Heritage Square, then other locations in Douglas, Buckeye and Chandler.

This exhibit is free to the public and is on display weekdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change Innovation Gallery.

Remodeled in 2018, the Innovation Gallery hosts different exhibits on the nature of the school’s work and myriad aspects of the human story and experience.