CBU’s Taylor Flake to Receive Vanderhaar Student Peace Award

NAACP Taylor

Gloria Sweet Love, President of the Tennessee State Conference NAACP, presents the charter to Taylor Flake, CBU chapter president.

Taylor Derielle Flake is a sophomore history major at Christian Brothers University. Taylor organized the founding of CBU’s Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP during her first year of college. CBU still stands as the first and only LaSallian University in the world to have its own Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP. Taylor is passionate about solving social justice issues and implementing long-lasting change and this passion is evident through her leadership in the NAACP. Through programs like the Juvenile Justice Summit, NAACP Reads, and the Black Lives Matter Campaign. Christian Brothers University’s Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP has worked tirelessly under the leadership of Ms. Flake to create programs and initiatives that challenge CBU and the city of Memphis to face the issues in our community and work together to solve them.

The Vanderhaar Symposium (VS) is an annual city-wide activity. It features noted
scholars and/or activists addressing social and moral issues related to peace and
justice, and the presentation of the Vanderhaar Student Peace Award. The award recognizes an undergraduate or graduate student within the city of Memphis involved in non-violent work for peace and justice and includes a $600 prize.

Dr. Jeff Gross, Assistant Professor of Literature and Languages, who is the faculty adviser for CBU’s NAACP Chapter, and who will be introducing Taylor during the symposium has this to say about Taylor and the Chapter’s accomplishments:

The NAACP chartering ceremony was one of the most impressive events I have seen at CBU. Taylor’s invitations reached dignitaries from across Tennessee. During her speech, Taylor stated emphatically that CBU’s campus chapter “will stand for something,” as she aligned the core values of the NAACP with CBU’s own Lasallian values. Under Taylor’s leadership, the NAACP is also engaging with childhood literacy and food justice issues. The issues with which Taylor engages as President of the NAACP dovetail nicely with the legacy of Gerard Vanderhaar’s commitment to peace, justice, and education.”


Taylor Flake (center) w/ CBU President, Dr. John Smarrelli Jr. to her left, and Dr. Jeff Gross (far right)

Taylor explains she “entered CBU determined to work on civil rights issues. Because of the relationship I developed with the NAACP during high school, I felt that beginning a chapter at CBU would be an effective way to create a structure for social change. I spent my freshman year preparing for approval of a NAACP collegiate chapter; CBU received its charter in July 2014. I was then elected by my peers to be our first chapter president. Since then, my executive committee and I have worked tirelessly to promote social justice at CBU.”

If you would like to collaborate with or join CBU’s NAACP Chapter please send an email to tflake@cbu.edu.

This year’s Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium will be held at Christian Brothers University on Thursday, April 16, 2015 in the main theater and will feature Sister Simone Campbell, SSS.

*An earlier version of this article included an account that the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education had investigated an incident which occurred during Ms. Flake’s senior year at Arlington High School. Ms. Flake was quoted as saying that the OCR had delivered a finding of a discriminatory act against her by the high school administration. This assertion has been disputed by the superintendent of Arlington Community Schools, and has not been corroborated by evidence available to CBU.