UIW Celebrates Black History Month

February 2, 2017

San Antonio – On, Wednesday, Feb. 1, the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) kicked off Black History Month with a luncheon honoring Incarnate Word’s first African-American graduate, Adell Ferguson Polk. Polk graduated in 1956 from then Incarnate Word College with a Bachelor of Science in Education.  She went on to earn a degree in pharmacy from Texas Southern University and had a successful career as a pharmacist at Santa Rosa Hospital. Polk was a true pioneer and her success paved the way for approximately 1,700 African-American students to complete their degree at Incarnate Word. In addition, Polk was an active member of her church and the community. Polk passed away in Oct. 2015. Members of the Polk family attended the event including her husband of 58 years, Mr. Louis Polk, Sr.  Her UIW legacy continues with her great niece Myrekle McClinton.  McClinton is currently studying business management in UIW’s H-E-B School of Business & Administration.

The keynote speaker was Rev. James P. Amerson is the pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church, the oldest African American congregation in San Antonio. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and sociology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He received his calling to ministry in 1986. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Gammon Theological Seminary in the renowned Interdenominational Theological Center; Atlanta, Georgia.

In his address, Amerson noted that, “…in 1954 well before any bill was signed, Incarnate Word College was already integrated.  The Sisters acted out of human dignity and when a child came to their door, the Sisters opened it.”

Sr. Walter Maher, CCVI, vice-president of UIW Mission and Ministry and a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word announced a permanent legacy to Mrs. Polk.  Upon the completion of the new Student Engagement Center, a room will be dedicated in Polk’s memory to honor her achievements in education and healthcare, the cornerstones of Sisters’ ministry. 

“Mrs. Polk lived a life of faith, love and fidelity.  She is a model for all of us for the way she lived her life.  It is our goal to preserve and honor her legacy,” said Maher.

UIW will continue to celebrate Black History with a series of programs and events.  For a complete list of events, visit www.UIW.edu.


CONTACT:    Margaret Garcia, associate director communications and marketing, (210) 829-6001, mlgarci2@uiwtx.edu