Judson College proudly announces Dr. Billie Jean Young, Artist in Residence and Associate Professor of Fine and Performing Arts, has been chosen for induction into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in the class of 2014.
The Black Belt Hall of Fame is a project of the Center for the Study of the Black Belt at the University of West Alabama. Its mission is to recognize and honor those associated with the Black Belt who have had a positive impact on the region, the state, the nation, and the world through contributions in art, business, education, industry, medicine, politics, law, and science.
Young is an actor, writer, and Civil Rights advocate; she has educated and inspired hundreds of audiences through her poetry, lectures, and dramatic performances; she has worked in Alabama and world-wide on issues of social and economic justice.
Young’s life experiences and creative gifts have enabled her to become one of Judson College’s most respected and beloved teachers, mentors, and role models.
However, Young’s first encounter with Judson College was as a student during the 1970s. But before attending Judson as a student, she lived and worked in Selma for about four years, and directing plays and acting was her avocation. She says that although the play directing went smoothly, she decided to take drama courses to see why her work was doing so well.
At Judson, Young majored in English and minored in theater. She joined the Theater Club and performed in the first black play called “A Raisin in the Sun.”
Young wrote her senior thesis — combining the English major and theater minor – on “The Evolution of the Black Hero in American Drama.” She finished Judson in 1974, graduating magna cum laude and with distinction in her major. She is also the first African-American to graduate from Judson
Among her many accomplishments, she has written, directed, and acted in two highly acclaimed theatrical productions inspired by people and events of the Civil Rights Era. They include the one-woman play, “Fannie Lou Hamer: This Little Light” and the ensemble drama, “JimmyLee.”
Then in 2006 – more than 30 years after her graduation — she returned to her alma mater to begin a new teaching career. Now as a Judson professor, Young combines her real-life and academic knowledge to provide students with an excellent educational experience.
Dr. Billie Jean Young will be inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame along with preservationist Betty Craft Banks, and artist and folklorist Ruby Pickens Tartt. The induction ceremony dinner will be held on Friday, March 14 at the Black Belt Conference Center, which is located on the University of West Alabama’s campus in Livingston, AL. Attendance is by invitation only.
This year’s class will join previous inductees including Vera Hall, Kathryn Tucker Windham, William James Edwards, fellow Judson alum, Mary Ward Brown, Willie King, George Washington Carver, Dorothy Altman Riddick, Dr. Robert Brown, and Winnie McGlamery in representing the best of the Black Belt.