An Ursinus senior is one of only 43 students in the country to be selected as a 2014-2015 Thomas J. Watson Fellow. Codey Young of Pottstown will travel for a year to the African Diasporic countries of the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Germany and France.
There, he will explore “black men’s use of artistic expressions to create a sense of identity rooted in their link to African ancestry while adapting to the cultural and historic circumstances that define their geographic location,” according to his proposal.
His topic, “Releasing the Caged Bird: Chronicling Artistic Expressions of Black Masculinity,” will make use of his own poetry to chronicle his encounters. “Sharing it with fellow artists, I hope to echo the voices of their unique experiences and gain deeper insight into the bonds that connect black male artists around the world,” he wrote.
“Through poetry, I have encountered the paradox in being, in the words of Ralph Ellison, an ‘invisible man:’ unnoticeable to the outside world, yet simultaneously, an object of hypervigilance. Research, travel and feminism have all allowed me to uncover, with a critical eye, the complexity of black masculine identity so often hidden from the visible world, and at time, even from ourselves. Artistic expressions offer the essential characteristic of imagination: examining and exposing oneself creatively to connect with others. At the core of black male art is a demand for visibility that recognizes our impactful presence.”
Each African Disaporic country he has chosen offers a “a distinct approach to locating oneself within history,” he said. In all the countries, he plans to interact with men in the arts, including scholars and dancers. Arriving in Germany in time for Berlin’s Black History Month, he hopes to gain insight into the marginalization of Germans of African descent, and their cultural identity.
A major in Philosophy and Sociology with a minor in Africana & African American Studies, Young has been inspired by his studies and travel, and dedicated his poetry to chronicling African Americans’ lives and struggle for liberation. Through The Brothers’ Network, an arts and culture-centered non-profit serving Black men, attending theater or poetry performances, or publishing his work, Codey has found an empowering outlet in art. At Ursinus, Codey works as a Senior Assistant to the Chaplain, Rev. Charles Rice. He also serves as a student consultant for the Teaching and Learning Initiative, directed by Dr. Meredith Goldsmith, through which he recently took part in a trip to Hong Kong to assist the implementation of a student consultant program at Lingnan University.
In the Philadelphia region, only Ursinus, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore colleges have Watson Fellows this year. Continuing its tradition of providing transformational exposure and life-changing opportunities to promising students, the Watson Foundation provides a year of international exploration for select graduating college seniors in any field. Only schools selected for the rigor and scope of their liberal arts programs can nominate students as Fellows. The Fellows were selected from 700 candidates and 150 finalists. Each Fellow receives $28,000 for 12 months of travel, college loan assistance as applicable, and an insurance allowance.