YWCA to recognize Dr. Alex Landi and Spring Hill College's legacy of social and racial justice

Thu, 05/08/2008 (All day)

Mobile – Spring Hill College and Dr. Alex Landi, professor and chair of the college’s division of social sciences, will receive the YWCA of Greater Mobile’s Racial Justice Award at the YWCA’s Women of Achievement annual fundraiser. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday, June 13 at the Battle House Hotel.

“The award recognizes Spring Hill College’s long history in ensuring social and racial justice,” said Lenice Emanuel, YWCA chief executive officer.

Spring Hill College, the first college in Alabama to integrate, has been a leader of social and racial justice efforts. Its mission states, “Through informed dialogue with the world's cultures, religions and peoples, we promote solidarity with the entire human family.” Dr. Martin Luther King mentions Spring Hill College in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” citing the college as one of the first Southern schools to integrate. Spring Hill College admitted the first black students in 1954, before the U.S. government mandated desegregation. Fannie E. Motley was the first black graduate from the college in 1956. In addition, women were admitted as full-time students in 1952. Spring Hill College students, faculty and Jesuit community continue to carry on the legacy of social justice that has been a part of the college’s 178-year history.

Landi, who also serves as interim associate vice president for academic affairs, has taught at Spring Hill College since 1971 and has directed the Master of Liberal Arts program since 1994. He received a B.S. in economics from Rutgers University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in politics and literature from the University of Dallas.

“I love my students, each of whom is a child of God, regardless of race, gender, creed, or other distinguishing characteristics,” Landi said. “It is my hope that in relating to my students I can help them to achieve a fully human life, and that they in turn will extend God’s love to the people and communities with whom they interact, especially to those who are at the margins of our society.” 

Landi’s involvement in racial understanding and justice dates back to the 1980s when, as dean of undergraduate studies, he secured and administered a grant from the Ford Foundation to develop courses and extracurricular activities in cultural diversity. Subsequently, he became a member of the board of People United to Advance the Dream, a local organization spearheaded by African-American ministers with the goal of organizing a city-wide Martin Luther King Day celebration and various programs to advance the African-American community in Mobile.

After returning to the faculty in the early ’90s, Landi initiated the Master of Liberal Arts program, in which he included a cultural diversity requirement that would familiarize students with perspectives beyond the Western canon. He also led the committee that proposed the addition of a cultural diversity requirement to the undergraduate curriculum, a requirement that remains in place today.

As a member of the Development Office from 2004 to 2007, Landi helped to establish a scholarship in honor of Fannie E. Motley. In 2006 he became involved with Bridges, an organization committed to promoting interracial/intercultural dialogue. Landi also has been instrumental in facilitating a partnership between Spring Hill College and the City of Prichard.