“It’s important for all of us to work towards acceptance.”

Dr. Bola: "My husband, Philips, got a job in the Paper Valley and we moved here 20 years ago.

Photos by Megan Monday

Dr. Bola and Philips | Appleton, WI

 I’m a professor of multicultural education now, but at that time I was just finishing up my PhD from Penn State. Appleton appealed to me because I am a small-town person. I’m very family-oriented; I liked the sense of community.

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Philips: We came here for my job at the paper company, and like most paper companies, we practice in Europe, in Asia, and in different parts of the world, so it brings in a lot of different kinds of people. Just going to the grocery store in Appleton, I run into professionals from other countries or other states. It’s diverse. Not in terms of racial population, but you do get to see people from all over the world. Coming from abroad myself, I find that aspect enriching.

Dr. Bola: I love living in Wisconsin, in Appleton, but of course we also experience some of what is going on nationally in terms of race relations. It’s important for all of us to work towards acceptance.

Love will change a whole lot of things, but we have to work towards that love, and that love means accepting the differences. We have to celebrate the differences instead of using 'difference' to discriminate against each other.

Dr. Bola: I’m a professor of multicultural education. The work that I do focuses on supporting individuals to know more about being black, or being African. I started a non-profit with my husband and two other couples that focuses on engaging the community to provide quality educational opportunities for black children.

As I open up books, as I open up newspapers, as I open up textbooks, as I turn on the news, I see the omission or the misrepresentation of people of African descent and I think to myself:

I want my daughter to know that she has a place, a sense of ownership to this community. That is the driving force that inspires me to do what I do.

We’re always reminded to ‘be the change you wish to see,’ so that’s where I’m coming from. And I just believe that this work is my ministry. I truly believe this work is my calling.

-Dr. Bola and Philips | Appleton, WI

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