For Enimini Ekong (BA ’07), the purpose of teaching people about African American history is not just about looking to the past – it’s about seeing the future clearly.
As the Program Manager of Interpretation, Education and Cultural Resources at the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site, Enimini spends much of his time helping people from a variety of backgrounds gain a better understand of history, specifically the history of African Americans from slavery to civil rights and beyond.
“The aim of interpretation is to bring forth understanding, and we believe that understanding then brings forth appreciation, and the more you appreciate something, the more you protect it,” Enimini said. "“Part of what I love about my job is that I get to challenge people's hearts around race and culture, with hopes that I can create a haven for hard conversations that are transformational.”
“Much of the practice involving those transformational conversations with individuals was learned on Baylor's campus. In fact, it's the basic tenets of sharing the Gospel. I take these historical facts that tell truth that are oftentimes hard to digest, but through a story or a parable, I can help individuals' hearts to be challenged in such a way that it might actually change the way that they live – the way that they see things – because all of us see through a lens.”
Enimini’s career in the U.S. National Park Service, which also includes service as Superintendent of the Nicodemus National Historic Site, was not always his plan. Born to Nigerian parents and raised in Dallas, Enimini’s name means “God sees everything.” He grew up in a competitive family, and he came to Baylor with intentions of going to dental school.
But a choice to take an elective Black history class at Baylor became a turning point in his life.
“I found myself struggling to get my B+ in that course, but there was something about the way that Dr. James SoRelle taught history that exceeded the boundaries of just learning facts and figures and being able to pass a test,” Enimini said. “He made history personal. By the time I left his course, not only did I find myself changing my major, but I wanted to duplicate what he did in the classroom every day of my life. I wanted to put people in a lab where they could view history through a personal experience.”
After Baylor, Enimini pursued his master’s degree at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. While working after graduation at the Mary McLeod Bethune House, Enimini realized his future lay in the historic sites where history happened – where it is tangible.
“I can only say that my gratefulness to the History program, my gratefulness to Baylor has always been that I came in as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed student, desiring to do great things,” he said. “With the cultivation of an awesome university that was full of great relationships that I still hold dear today and that challenge of my faith, I have found myself being able to walk away from the university with things that I didn't know to ask for. And for that I'm eternally grateful.”