Messiah celebrates a "multicultural century"
When Hierald Kane-Osorto `06 was a student at Messiah, he often sat in a lounge where a portrait of Dr. Oscar Marshall, an African American dentist who was so impressed with the College that he bequeathed his estate for scholarships, hung on the wall. Kane-Osorto, a minority student himself, felt a kinship with Marshall and began wondering about other people of color who influenced Messiah College’s history.
In light of the College’s Centennial celebration and his own curiosity, Kane-Osorto, former coordinator of multicultural programs, began research in the College’s Archives in an attempt to identify the first student of color to attend Messiah. “It was a powerful moment,” he recalls when he happened upon a class photograph from 1918 in which a young, African American woman is pictured. The woman, later identified as Rachel Flowers `18 (pictured right), was the first African American enrolled at Messiah.
Kane-Osorto, with the help of a student assistant and others on campus, uncovered additional individuals, and united their stories into a project now known as “The Multicultural Century.” Kane-Osorto has presented the project several times, including during Homecoming weekend. The response, he says, has been really great, especially from current students. “They resonate with these individuals from the past,” he explains. “It’s good for current students to acknowledge how the contributions of minority students from the past have shaped the institution today.”
Kane-Osorto expects that interest in this project will last long beyond the conclusion of the College’s Centennial celebration. There are still answers to be found and stories to be uncovered and shared, he says.
Experience the Multicultural Century
View a narrated slideshow of Hierald Kane-Osorto's presentation of the Multicultural Century.
Read the stories of Rachel Flowers `18, Vincent Flowers `27, Dr. Oscar Marshall, The Sakimura family, M. P. Krikorian, and the Black Student Union.