Black History Month Student Spotlight: Paul Ivory

In honor of Black History Month, Lamar University will celebrate with a series of events organized and sponsored by a variety of organizations, departments and clubs that highlight and pay tribute to the achievements of African Americans and important events that contributed to U.S. history.

In addition to university events, LU also chose to celebrate Black excellence by spotlighting several Black LU students and the many reasons why they feel this month is important. Paul Ivory, senior chemical engineering major, shares a Black historical figure located right in the Southeast Texas area that inspires him the most. 

Why does it feel important to celebrate Black History Month? paul-ivory-ig

Black History Month is important to be celebrated because it is the history of this country. Many of the brightest and most celebrated figures in modern society are Black, and their contributions deserved to be highlighted and celebrated along with our predecessors who paved the way for us. It is a period where we can come together not only to learn history, but to love who we are as a people.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

To me, Black History Month is a time I personally enjoy. I love learning about the many inventions that were created by my predecessors in time periods where they had to fight for their basic civil liberties and rights. Often going unrecognized for their feats, these trailblazers were committed to not only advancements in the world, but for their own people as well. Learning about these heroes motivates me to purse my dreams, but to also be just as involved in the advancement of my own community in any capacity I can serve.

What motivates you to be successful?

Having goals helps me to be successful. Without having a destination or an idea of where you want to be, you will become comfortable with where you currently are. Also, knowing that children are looking up to me motivates me to strive for success.

What Black historical figure is most inspiring to you and why? 

The historical figure I find most inspiring is the former Mayor of Orange, Texas Miss Essie Bellfield. Not only was Essie Bellfield the first Black Mayor, she was the first woman elected Mayor of my hometown from 1997-2000 and also served on the City Council. She was an avid civil rights leader and a true trailblazer in my community who changed the landscape of Orange forever. Often times her story of perseverance and groundbreaking achievements aren’t heard by the masses. Yet, her accomplishments against all odds inspire me to lead by example and to not be afraid to make change.

What do you hope to accomplish during this month of recognition and celebration?

Firstly, I hope to be able to exemplify the attributes and characteristics that my predecessors possessed in this time we’re living in. Many of these core values have shaped me into the person I am today, and I hope to pass them along to younger generations to come. I plan to one day make great innovations such as the many great members of the S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and math) community that came before me. I have made it my goal not only to research the most recent technological advancements that have been made by Black engineers, but to search for those people who did not receive their proper credit for their work. I want to be able to highlight them and pass the knowledge on to as many people as I can to keep their name and work alive.

Anything else that you would like to add?

I would just like to add that Black History Month is a great time for people of all races and backgrounds to educate themselves and learn history of some amazing people. We often recognize the major figures in Black History as we should, but there are also important figures in Black History in our hometown communities that we should honor as well. Black history is walking, breathing and living. It is who we are as a people, not just 4 weeks in the year, but every day. No matter what capacity it may be, have faith that being the best you can be will not only change your life, but the driving force to change the lives of others around you. You owe it to those who paved the way for you, your community and yourself to do just that!

Learn more about how Lamar University is celebrating Black History Month this year, visit