“Aisha: She Who Lives” opens at the Fitzgerald Carnegie Center

Press Release:

Photographer Kamia McWilliams has developed a new body of work specifically for her show at Fitzgerald’s historic Carnegie Center titled, “Aisha: She Who Lives.” The exhibit opening reception is Saturday, December 8 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The portrait series is a contemporary twist on traditional African style. There will be six poster sized dynamic and colorful portraits on display as well as smaller prints. The prints were created through a partnership between the library at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, McWilliams and the Fitzgerald Ben Hill Arts Council.

In the summer, McWilliams reached out to the Arts Council, interested in becoming a member. But when newly hired Arts Coordinator Shelby Evans saw her work, she knew she had to see if she wanted to exhibit her photography.

“When I saw Kamia’s work, I knew that she was an artist,” said Evans. “The arts council exists to provide opportunities for local artists of all mediums. We’re excited to host her work. This will be a wonderful exhibit for our community and region.”

McWilliams has actively used her art to draw attention to the struggles she and her loved ones face. In one series titled “I’m depressed, not defeated,” she photographed young women who battle depression and interviewed them about their experiences.

“Both women touched my heart and also gave me hope when it came to my personal experience with depression,” she wrote.

In another, she took portraits of her stepfather and his extensive scars. Milton Magwood experienced serious burns after an explosion at his job. His primary concern was his coworkers, and didn’t know how severe the burns were until he arrived at the hospital. He underwent nearly 40 surgeries. McWilliams photographed him shirtless, exposing the scars across his body. But Magwood did not look weak in the portraits, instead he flexed his arms, showing his strength.

In addition to six previously unseen portraits by McWilliams, she has also produced a poetry book in conjunction with her show.

“These pieces of poetry were influenced by African American culture, motherhood as a black woman and inner battles that African American women face,” wrote McWilliams in a recent blog post.

She will be signing copies of her book and selling them at the opening reception.

“I wrote poems pertaining to my own personal experiences as far as depression, dealing with the death of my father and my opinion on black lives matter. I strongly believe these poems stand out the most because of the emotions that were behind them as I wrote them,” she wrote.

In addition to running her photography business, which recently opened a studio in downtown Fitzgerald, McWilliams is also a 911 operator in Tifton, GA. Her husband, Sable McWilliams, has produced his own modern take on African music for the exhibit.

Her prints will be for sale at the exhibit opening as will her poetry book. The reception is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit will be on display for two months. The Carnegie Center is located 120 S Lee St in Fitzgerald, GA.


Students distribute meals before Thanksgiving

For eight years students at ABAC have put together a food giveaway for families of Tifton, Manna Drop. The first car arrived at Charles Spencer Elementary School at 4:30 a.m. While cars started to wrap around the school, a line of walk-ups began.

A total of 400 bags filled with a five-pound ham, cornbread mix, rice, canned green beans and canned corn. 400 bags were given to vehicles while the other 100 are given out to people directly.

The event was coordinated by five students of ABAC: Lane Riley, Loren Lindler, Jonathan Kroner, Landon Rowe and Cheyenne Colson. They worked throughout the year to get donations. Four-year Manna Drop veteran Lane Riley, says, “around $9,000 are spent by local businesses for the event.”

Students coordinate with business to get donations and volunteers. They work with the Charles Spencer Administration, as well as Tifton Police to organize people and vehicles.
The group is considered a club on ABAC’s campus. Manna Drop advisor, Dr. Tom Grant said, “they work hard every year to bring this all to fruition. They are the ones reaching out to people and getting the word spread.”

The Manna Drop orders food through Publix who also donates the reusable bags that are given to recipients. Colson helped to get ABAC’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries to send volunteers to distribute bags. A total of 17 volunteers including ABAC faculty and students worked the event. Students partnered with Ameris Bank to host a can drive in their business which was added to the bags.

The event was set to start at 10 a.m., but due to the long line of cars accumulating, distribution began early around 9:15 a.m. The 100 walk up bags were all gone within the first 30 minutes. A group of five volunteers including Colson, handed out the bags while wishing every person a “Happy Thanksgiving.” “These things are really important for the community, it’s just a good way to spread a little love for the holidays. A lot of people are thankful we can help them out,” said Colson.

After only an hour and 15 minutes, all 400 bags had been given away. Lindler was counting vehicles and helping to direct traffic during the event. “This is my first year helping out with it, but I was amazed at how many people were getting through the line,” she said.

The group was not surprised by the number of people who were ready for the event. Following the events of Hurricane Michael, more people in Tifton need help for the holidays. “We knew that this was going to be a successful year, Hurricane Michael caused a lot of damage that still isn’t fully repaired,” said Lindler. Once the final bag had been given out, Lindler had to solemnly turn hopeful cars away.

Riley plans to continue Manna Drop next year, “we want to try and get more meals next year, we had a harder time fundraising this year. This is the first year we actually decreased in the number of meals given away.” If you would like to help with the 2019 Manna Drop contact Riley at his email,


Christmas should be cheerful, not dreadful

     I saw an article online the other day from one of my local news sources and found myself irritated by the content. The author uses their editorial forum for influential purposes, but instead of influencing productive and positive feelings, they chose to provoke readers into feeling negativity.

     The subject of the matter was Christmas music causing undue stress if played too early. A countless number of people followed suit with their pitiful stories about how they “just can’t take all the Christmas cheer” or how “Christmas is celebrated too early.” At the greatest time of need in the year for the impoverished, news outlets choose to write about something as insignificant as Christmas music being a nuisance.

     This is a prime example of a First World problem. How dare they play Christmas music while you are waiting for your manicure, dining out or as you shop tirelessly for items to show off to everyone you know.

     I cannot imagine having a forum of influence just to waste it on a ‘good read.’ Our community deserves more than that. This is a time to inspire people to ask themselves what they can do to make someone else’s life better or how they can help change the world for the better.

     There are children in the country who will not have toys or a hot meal to look forward to on Christmas Day. There are also many who do not have a roof over their head or a warm bed to sleep in. We should all be more focused on what we can give and not on what we receive.

     What have you done this year to make the world a better place, even if it was just for one person? How have you given back to your community? Caring for your community is something we should do year-round without being against our will.

     I challenge everyone reading this article to volunteer one hour to a local soup kitchen to serve a warm meal for a local family in need or sponsor a child in the community for Christmas gifts. Gather your friends and make it a group effort. Let’s show Tifton and surrounding towns that ABAC students are not only thankful, but we are thoughtful.


ABAC mourns the death of Chandler Brock Kuck

Vogue Fashion, TJ Maxx Macarons, and witty sarcasm come to mind when Hailey Glover and Teddi Pope remember their friend Chandler Brock Kuck. “He [Kuck] was one of the smartest students on campus,” Glover said. Pope added, “he just had a different way of showing people who he really was, and there was something special about that.”

On Nov. 27, Kuck was on his way home from Albany when his vehicle lost control on the road. Family and friends of Brock were notified that he didn’t survive the crash. Posts started flooding in on Kuck’s Facebook page after a family member posted the devasting news. Mary Harper, English and Communications Lecturer at ABAC posted on Kuck’s timeline saying, “Chandler Kuck was one of those students who you only meet once maybe twice in your career.” Kuck studied a track in history and political science, and faculty from the rural studies program adored his presence in the classroom.

Kuck was a key role to most class discussions in the upper-level history classes he took. If the classroom fell silent after a professor asked a question, Kuck was always there to save the class with a well-thought-out response. “He would legit be the only student answering the questions some days, and when he wasn’t in class, we really had to pick up a lot of his slack,” said Pope.

Kuck was known for walking into class with a fashion magazine. His favorite magazine was Vogue. Fashion was one of Brock’s interests growing up. “He always would look at everyone’s outfit and judged people’s wardrobe choices,” said Pope. “Not in a mean way, however, he couldn’t help that he had an eye for what looks good and what doesn’t.” Kuck liked wearing colorful shirts with different patterns and he wore loafers daily.

It didn’t take long for teachers at ABAC to realize Kuck’s intelligence when he registered for classes. He would come to school with a bag filled with books, but he never purchased the books required for a class. Kuck was an avid reader and a true history lover. “He was filled with random facts that you would think weren’t relevant,” Glover remembered. “It was funny because every time he [Kuck] hit us with a random fact, it always came up later in a class discussion.”
Kuck went on a class trip to the Swan House in Atlanta with Elizabeth Medley, Assistant Professor of History and Political Science. The Swan House is a 1,000,000 square ft. mansion located in Buckhead once belonging to Edward Inman, a wealthy cotton broker in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The house was acquired by the Atlanta Historical Society and serves as part of the Atlanta History Center. The first time Brock ever visited the Swan House, he fell in love with the design and its historical furniture and decorations. “He never stopped talking about the Swan House after that field trip,” remembered Pope.

The ABAC atmosphere gave Kuck a place where he was surrounded by intellectual people and a place where he could be himself. He kept his ABAC friends separate from his family and hometown friends. “There was never anything wrong with Chandler keeping us separate,” said Pope. “He had to act differently around his family than us. Would you act the same around your best friend as you would around somebody like your father?” Kuck was able to better discover himself emotionally and politically during his time at ABAC.

Chandler Brock Kuck on the right. ABAC Alumnus Chandler Brock Kuck listening to a guided tour at the Swan House in Atlanta. Photo Credit Drayton Holmes.

Anybody that knew Kuck well, knew that he enjoyed discussing politics. His political views didn’t always align with his family’s, but he didn’t hide his beliefs. Kuck formed his political opinions from constantly reading at a young age. He did his own studying without a teacher assigning homework. Kuck had a desire to learn and a love for education.

Macarons were a favorite snack for Kuck. He routinely stopped at TJ Maxx to purchase them. “We would just be sitting there hanging out and out of nowhere Chandler just pulls out a sleeve of macarons from TJ Maxx,” Glover said. Glover and Pope had a long laugh after remembering the day they found champagne flavored macarons at a store. What started off sounding like a great combination of flavor turned out to be unappealing after the friends tried the unique tasting dessert.

Kuck is remembered on campus for his brilliance and his eccentric personality. Glover and Pope agreed that it’s best to focus on all the positives from Kuck’s life. “Instead of feeling sad, we need to remember the fun times and the things we learned hanging out with Chandler,” said Pope. Kuck is dearly loved and missed by his family and friends.


President Bridges announces big plans for ABAC

ABAC President David Bridges spoke at the Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) Tuesday Speaker Series. The ACT hosts different guest speakers throughout the semester to discuss with students different topics pertaining to agriculture.

Bridges has been the president of ABAC since July 1, 2006. He has been remembered as the tenth president, the longest-serving president, and the first ABAC Alumnus to serve as president. Bridges was the main advocate for bringing four-year degrees to a school that only offered associates degrees for 70 plus years.

The topic of discussion was the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation and how it is necessary for the future of rural communities in Georgia. A key point Bridges made was the biggest threat that faces rural communities, which is in some rural counties, the death rate exceeds the birth rate.

Bridges used to speak at high school graduations, and he would explain the saddest night of the year in rural communities was high school graduation. How could high school graduation be a sad night for these communities?

Bridges meant graduation from high school means the town will lose their smartest and brightest young people. Some people will stay, but most will pack their bags and never return.

Another problem Georgia is facing is the number of counties our state has. Georgia has the second highest number of counties compared to other states, with Texas having the most counties. Georgia has 159 counties due to a historic rule set in place. When the counties were drawn up, they were designed so that citizens in every county could reach their town center in one day traveling by horse and carriage. Now that transportation has progressed, this rule has become dated

Bridges thinks the state has too many counties and with this many counties, it’s difficult to take care of them all. It would be tough to get enough counties to agree with consolidation, and most counties would want to absorb the surrounding counties rather than being absorbed themselves. This is just one of the ways Georgia is at a disadvantage when it comes to serving rural communities.

ABAC Dining Hall has recently ended a long contract with Sodexo. Bridges discussed how instead of using Sodexo, ABAC Dining hall would start using food that is grown locally in Georgia. The operation will begin is in January 2019. The initial goal for the dining hall is to serve 25 percent of their food from Georgia farmers.

Bridges encouraged the audience to tell farmers in the area that ABAC is looking for farmers to purchase fresh farm products from. The end goal is to be able to sustain a 100 percent farm imported dining facility at ABAC so students can find out exactly where their meals are coming from.

“It’s going to be hard for the urban to survive without the rural and it would be hard for the rural to survive without the urban,” said Bridges.

Rural communities depend on the urban communities to continue a high demand for farm products. The urban communities depend on these rural communities for necessary products in everyday life.