Professor, activist Norma Bailey honored by LGBTQ community
Norma Bailey is a local icon for LGBTQ activism.
Students and faculty gathered Tuesday to celebrate and honor the education professor's achievements during her 18 years at CMU.
The Pride Week event, hosted by LGBTQ Services, was held at the Central Michigan University Center of Inclusion and Diversity in the Bovee University Center.
"To hear the impact you make is so powerful," Bailey said. "You don't realize when you're doing it how much it affects those around you."
Students, colleagues and members of Bailey's family shared stories about her work in social activism during the event.
Bailey will be leaving CMU in August. Director of LGBTQ Services Shannon Jolliff said the group wanted to host a night celebrating Bailey's time at CMU, honoring her contributions to the community.
"Norma has done a lot (for the) LGBTQ community, making sure that our students felt safe on campus and in Mount Pleasant," Jolliff said. "She also did phenomenal work with our teacher education department."
Bailey led the charge for an anti-discrimination ordinance in Mount Pleasant in recent years. Before the ordinance was passed, housing, jobs and accommodations in the community could be denied to a person on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
When she realized there was no law preventing such discrimination, Bailey organized a group and started a campaign that lasted a year and a half. The ordinance was passed in July 2012.
Former Student Government Association President Marie Reimers spoke at the event, thanking Bailey for passing the ordinance.
"Before the ordinance, SGA heard from LGBTQ students who said they felt comfortable on campus, but not in Mount Pleasant," the Saginaw junior said. "The ordinance made them feel much better off campus and that means the world to us."
Along with her fight for LGBTQ rights, Bailey is always involved in other social justice issues, such as poverty.
Mount Clemens senior Samantha Asman has been taught by Bailey in several classes and worked with the professor in the Collegiate Middle Level Association of CMU. While speaking at the event, Asman became too choked up to finish her speech.
"She has inspired me so much, in ways I never thought someone could," Asman said. "I really wanted to be here to support her."
Bailey plans to travel for a month once she leaves CMU. She said she doesn't want to commit herself to any new causes until she has had time to think.