Topeka, Kan. – Washburn University invites the public to join the Washburn community as they commence a month of celebrating the achievements, contributions and history of African Americans in the United States. The Washburn University Office of Student Life and Washburn's Black Student Union will host a banquet 6 – 8 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Washburn Room in the Memorial Union on the Washburn Campus. This event is free for Washburn students, faculty and staff, and is $10 for community members. Everyone who plans to attend needs to register here Registration includes dinner. 

JoAnna Marks, Washburn student and the diversity and inclusion director for the Washburn Student Government Association, will recite a poem. Jay Todd, life coach, public speaker, mental health advocate and DEI educator, is the keynote speaker. This is a WUmester 2024 event. 

“The story of Black History Month is filled with the voices of those yearning to be heard, those citizens who helped build our country but were often discounted because of the color of their skin,” said Isaiah Bryant-Collier, director of student involvement and development, Washburn University. “Voices like Carter G. Woodson who has been coined the ‘father of Black History Month.’ This Harvard educated historian fought to bring us the stories of all Americans, an endeavor we continue today with the events we hold throughout Black History Month and beyond.” 

About Jay Todd

Mr. Todd is a 29-year-old, Kansas City, Mo. native with his master’s degree in education. He has the professional skills and real-life experience to deliver on any stage. He is a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who works with different age groups, backgrounds, companies, universities, organizations and associations of all sizes seeking a breakthrough experience. While sharing his story, he also uses his knowledge and wisdom to help improve mental health and process/heal through trauma while establishing a healthy focus on improving everyday life. Todd looks to change lives and transform organizations by delivering a direct yet safe, transparent mental awakening to the participant’s mindset.

As a mental health advocate and professional speaker, he has spoken nationwide at different conferences and events for more than six years, focusing on re-establishing how we look at mental health, self-care and emotional intelligence. As an educator, he has developed and presented many workshops focusing on mental health, growth, diversity, equity and inclusivity in all areas, from personal and professional to corporate spaces. Jay has even utilized his skills in life coaching for countless mentees, at-risk youth and life-coaching clients of all ages and backgrounds across the country while appearing on different campuses, events and podcasts to bring forward a positive and relatable influence on everyone he meets. In every way, he wants to let his passion fuel his purpose in helping others and to help them do better. Not to try, but to do. 


WUmester is intended to foster a university-wide conversation on a topic related to social justice that will change each spring semester. The goal of the program is to engage the entire Washburn community in a cross-disciplinary learning experience on timely subjects and help students see the connections between the subjects they study in the classroom and real-world debates and problems.

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the landmark 1954 United States Supreme Court decision “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka,” WUmester 2024 will examine community and belonging from the perspectives of academic disciplines across campus and through a variety of co-curricular programming. It will consider how community and belonging contribute to our safety, well-being, and, ultimately, happiness and empowerment.

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For further information, contact:
Joy Bailes
Director of Internal Communications and Brand Management
Telephone: (785) 670-2153
Cell: (785) 230-1648
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