Upperman Center Receives “Center of the Year” Award

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

UNCW’s Upperman African American Cultural Center has been recognized for the depth of services it provides students and the community. The center received the “Center of the Year” award from the Association for Black Culture Centers during its annual conference held Nov. 3-5 in Albuquerque.

“Upperman has gained national attention over the years for being a center that consistently marries innovation with intention,” said Sean Palmer, Upperman Center director. “Our ABCC directors have continuously said ‘we follow you to learn how to do it well.’ I think that coming out of the pandemic, Black culture center directors have been inspired by our digital footprint, our depth of programming, our art gallery and the overall aesthetic and design.”

In addition to the Center of the Year award, Upperman also received the “Kummba Innovative Program of the Year” award for its Juneteenth Teach-In, a conference where community members, leaders and university personnel discuss issues affecting the black community and work to find solutions. Upperman program coordinator Ashlee Fleming received the “New Professional of the Year” award.

“We are proud that we have had a program that is an expected part of our Juneteenth celebration that centers a number of voices who are doing work to build out spaces for Black communities in southeastern North Carolina,” said Palmer. “We believe our program is seen as innovative because of its commitment to connecting with our larger community. We believe that the ability to make teaching about Black folks, race, power and resilience makes this event particularly powerful.”

The Association for Black Culture Centers offers institutions professional development opportunities to learn best practices on strengthening African American, Latino, Asian American, Native American and multicultural centers. The Upperman Center has been the location for two ABCC conferences.

“We are grateful that we work and live in a place where if you can dream it, you can make it happen,” said Palmer. “Our awards are a testament to the entirety of UNCW and its commitment to support people of African descent.”

-- Venita Jenkins