UA Student Uses Her Passion, Skills, Talent to Raise Black Student Voices

  • February 23rd, 2021
Tionna Taite
Tionna Taite

Montgomery native Tionna Taite is a trailblazer. There’s no refuting that.

The 20-year-old pre-law track news media major was the first Black editor-in-chief of The University of Alabama Honors College MOSAIC magazine. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of the first Black UA student-led magazine, “Nineteen Fifty-Six,” the CEO and founder of Becoming Black Excellence and hosts a talk radio show called “Boss Girl Semester.

With a 4.0 GPA, Taite is on the President’s List as well as a member of the Alabama Forensic Council. She recently was presented with one of the University’s top honors, the William P. and Estan J. Bloom Premier Award for juniors who’ve improved intergroup relations within the UA community.

So, what drives Taite to achieve all that she’s accomplished and continue to reach even higher?

Providing platforms for Black student voices to be heard and opportunities for them to take advantage of, she said.

“I personally know the opportunities that become available to minority students when they have a voice,” Taite said. “My high school was highly focused on academics, but I often saw how many minority students were silenced in classes.

“I remember a student asked me for the right answer to a question in class. I gave it to her, and she then turned around and asked someone if the answer was correct. She then said, ‘just checking because statistics show Black people aren’t as smart as other races.’

“It’s comments like that and U.S. history that led me to want to empower and give a voice to groups in society whose voices aren’t heard or don’t seem to count.”

image of a magazine cover for Nineteen Fifty-Six with an illustration of a similar Black woman on a read background with the caption "Inspiring Firsts"
The cover of the first issue of Nineteen Fifty-Six, which published in September 2020.

And Taite is doing just that through her magazine, radio show and website as well as by working closely with the Honors College.

Once she graduates, she hopes to go even further by creating mentorship programs and scholarships for minority girls.

“People should know that the U.S. wouldn’t be what it is without our Black ancestors.”

“Learning about Black history and being a part of Black history is very important,” she said. “Students need to know more than what K-12 schools teach about slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. They need to know it all.

“And one way to do that is not to relegate learning about Black history to the shortest month but teach it throughout the year. People should know that the U.S. wouldn’t be what it is without our Black ancestors.”

Taite said her advice for all students of every race is don’t wait to do whatever it is you dream of doing. Now is the time to seize the day, she said. Time waits for no one.

“Do it now. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too young, that people of your race don’t do this historically, or whatever else they’re saying to stop you. Create a game plan and take the most important step, which is to begin. Honestly, there is no perfect time but the present.”

Contact

Jamon Smith, strategic communications, jamon.smith@ua.edu

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.