Through Toyota’s support for the community, Manchester University opened its doors to the all-new Jean Childs Young Intercultural Center featuring the “Toyota Round,” a multipurpose space that will become a campus focal point for multicultural discussions and programming.
The University is located 116 miles from Gary, Indiana, in Manchester, Indiana and also has campuses in Fort Wayne, Indiana. With the naming of the center after Manchester’s 1954 Alumna Jean Childs Young, the University recognizes its own rich history as it continues a commitment to diversity and civil rights.
Manchester, a leader in equipping graduates to value, respect and learn about and from their differences, will use the space as a gathering place for students, community and business leaders from the region. Programming will focus on diversity and inclusion, civic engagement and building diverse communities.
“We are deeply grateful for this donation from Toyota Motor North America,” said David F. McFadden, president, Manchester University. “The Toyota Round will be a valuable resource for our students as well as the communities that surround us.”
The 5,000-square-foot building features a circular domed space named the Toyota Round. “The circular design of the Toyota Round evokes the symbolic importance in many cultures of gathering in a round when discussing difficult issues,” said McFadden. “It is welcoming, inclusive and non-hierarchical.”
Jean Childs Young was a civil rights activist and educator. She had a distinguished career as a teacher and served as an advocate for education, children’s welfare and civil rights. She worked alongside her husband U.S. Ambassador and former City of Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed her chair of the U.S. Commission of the International Year of the Child. She also established the Atlanta Task Force on Education, served as co-founder of the Atlanta-Fulton Commission on Children and Youth, and helped develop Atlanta Junior College. She served Manchester University as a trustee from 1975 to 1979 and received an honorary doctorate from Manchester in 1980. She died of liver cancer in 1994 at the age of 61.
“We are proud to support the legacy and works of Jean Childs Young through Manchester University,” said, Al Smith, Jr., group vice president and chief social innovation officer, Toyota Motor North America. “Our educational community partnerships help to develop programs that empower students to learn, achieve and succeed. Bringing the campus and communities together around issues of diversity and inclusion fits well with Toyota’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, which is grounded in our guiding principles: continuous improvement and respect for people. We are focused on educating today’s students to build tomorrow’s leaders.”
Jean Childs followed two older sisters to Manchester and earned a degree in elementary education. She became the first African American to become “May Queen” at Manchester in 1952. Weeks after graduating, she married Andrew Young, who remained at the side of his close friend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., throughout the Civil Rights Movement.
Andrew Young stated, “Much of my story is a result of Jean’s study at Manchester. I doubt that it could have happened if I’d married anyone else.” Young says that it was through Jean’s meeting of Coretta Scott King that he was introduced to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“This project is especially timely for us since the University is holding a number of events throughout 2018 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” McFadden said. “Dr. King’s last speech on a college campus, titled, ‘The Future of Integration’ was delivered at Manchester on February 1, 1968, just a few months before he was slain.” As part of the opening celebration, Manchester students performed a one-act fictional meeting between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X called, “The Meeting.”