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Sunny Nash Honored

June 1, 2015
Sunny Nash

Sunny Nash

The FOCUS Learning Community at Texas A&M University (TAMU) honored Sunny Nash with a FOCUS Block.

FOCUS (Foundations of Continued Undergraduate Success) is a mentoring and personal growth program for first-year TAMU Regents’ Scholars, who meet and interact with or learn about Sunny Nash, and other graduates and professionals associated with the University, such as Robert Gates—former TAMU president (1999-2001), 22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense (2006-2011), under two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom–whose FOCUS Block has also been created.

In the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Science, and the Health Science Center School of Public Health, FOCUS introduces students to a unique learning experience through FOCUS Blocks. The blocks represent an array of fields and academic areas through professionals like Nash–a 1977 TAMU graduate, among the first dozen black women[1] and the first African American to graduate with a degree in journalism [2]–who won a nomination for a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for television documentaries in education and medicine. The work was collected by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston in 1992.

In addition to its mentoring program, FOCUS also provides professional staff guidance and coordinated monthly activities for students. Students may also participate in the optional Keathley Hall Living-Learning Community. “Having a FOCUS Block[3] is an opportunity to share with students my years of studying at the University, and the professional career I pursued afterwards,” Nash said. “I hope I have done something in my life that will help others.”

Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash

Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s by Sunny Nash

Regarded by contemporary reviewers as a leading writer on race relations in America,[4] Sunny Nash is the author of Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s about life with her part-Comanche grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement, selected by the Association of American University Presses for understanding U.S. race relations, and recommended by the Florida Miami-Dade Public Library System for Native American Collections.

In 2015, Nash received the Ottis Lock Endowment Research Grant and Award. Named California writing Fellow in 2009 and 2015[6], Nash is published in anthologies, journals, magazines and historical publications; collected in literary volumes; and cited by popular and scholarly references. In 2014, Nash received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to moderate a panel on the NEH program, Created Equal,[7] at the Carnegie History Center. In 2007, Nash joined Harvard University’s African American National Biography[8] (Oxford University Press, 2008). Charter Communications named Nash 2004 TV Producer of the Year. In 2003, Nash won a California Public Corporation for the Arts Fellowship.

Reflections in Black: a History of Black Photographers, 1840 - Present

Reflections in Black: a History of Black Photographers, 1840 – Present

In 1999, Nash joined the Smithsonian project, Reflections in Black: a History of Black Photographers, 1840-Present, (W.W. Norton, New York, 2000), and her images toured internationally with the Smithsonian exhibition.[9] Recognized by Women in Photography International and the African American Photographers Guild, Nash’s photography is collected by the Schomburg Museum in New York; and the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

“When I was attending Texas A&M University, I never thought of myself as a pioneer. I was simply a student trying to graduate from a University I had been observing since childhood from my Candy Hill neighborhood. As it turns out, three Candy Hill girls were among the first black women to graduate; all of us in the 1970s, my neighbors and school friends–Karen Walton (’70), who became the first female African American Texas A&M graduate, and Lillian Lucas (‘71), the second.”

Sunny Nash, a popular blogger on Race Relations in America, a national speaker and former syndicated newspaper columnist, is a broadcast journalism and mass communications graduate of Texas A&M University, and studied Visual Literacy at Simmons College Graduate School of Information and Library Science in Boston, and Instructional Technology at the University of California, San Diego. Sunny Nash lives in Southern California.


[1] Intended for All, 125 Years of Women at Texas A&M,

[2] Fulfillment of a Dream African Americans at Texas A&M University,

[3] Sunny Nash FOCUS Block,

[4] Jim Crow in the American West,

[5] Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s,

[6] Sunny Nash California Artist Profile,

[7] NEH,

[8] African American National Biography,

[9] Reflections in Black International Tour,

[10] RFK Award Noination,

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