Morgan Bell: Young Activist


Photo by Lizzie Kibler.

Morgan Bell in her office space.

Walking through the Student Union before finals week last semester, you’d find several people lying on the floor. Students and faculty were participating in a die-in protest to bring light to certain social issues such as Eric Garner and the Ferguson cases.

Among the crowd, one student stood and shouted for change for people everywhere. That student was integrative studies Junior Morgan Bell.

Bell has a passion for activism in the community and is acting as a voice for that community.“If no one’s speaking about it then I feel like I need to be speaking about it,” Bell said.

Growing up

“When I was a kid, I always felt like I had to do something, like, if someone was being hurt I would always want to do something about it or stand up for them,” Bell said. “And sometimes I did and I suffered the consequences like detention. When I was a kid I was a lot more aggressive than I am now.”

Bell began to find herself more in elementary school and formed her own identity. She talked about how she felt growing up in a predominantly white town where basically everyone who was African American was her family.

“It was around middle school or high school when I was like, ‘forget this,’ but I did it in the most discreet ways like breaking the rules and wearing my afro out so it would get on everybody’s nerves and I’d sit in the front of the classes so no one could see,” Bell said. “It’s kind of terrible, but [I was] just like, ‘I’m making a statement.’”

Finding herself at NKU

Bell said she wanted to attend NKU because of another student, Hattie Clark, even though the college was her last choice. Because of another student, Hattie Clark, Bell wanted to attend NKU despite it being her last choice. Bell had known Clark since first grade.

“We were in marching band together and then she graduated and I found out she went to NKU,” Bell said. “I ended up really loving NKU.”

Bell is involved in several organizations on campuses such as Common Ground and Phi Sigma Sigma.

Bell chose to be a part of her organizations because they were all different.

“It all started, literally, with…another group on campus called WATER,” Bell said. “It’s like Writers Assessing Their Entertainment Righteously and they do this whole poetry and music and a bunch of people come out. So I got into, like, actually performing again ‘cause I performed in high school a bit.”

Bell works in the LGBTQ Programs and Services office as a programming and research assistant.

“I got to know her because she was a volunteer, a student worker,” Bonnie Meyer, director of LGBTQ Programs and Services said. “And now she’s just a rockstar in the office.”

“I see her not only planning events like the die-in… but also participating as an ally in other events,” Meyer said. “Which is really important.”

Bell is also the public relations chair for a new organization forming on campus called SWERVE, which stands for Spoken Weapons Engaged to Revolutionize Viewers Everywhere.

Bell went to the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts in 2011 for creative writing where she grew in her poetry writing.

“We’re doing this huge like finding yourself performance and I don’t have deep-down details yet,” Bell said. “So that’ll be interesting. I love poetry, I love slam poetry.”

“I found a sense of community that I never knew about,” Bell said. “And I feel like if it wasn’t for Meredith Smith… I took her class freshman year and my roommate was like, ‘Dude, you should totally take this class, it’s like you in the future’ so I enrolled in it and fell completely in love with it.”

Meredith Smith is a professor and co-director of Women’s and Gender Studies. Smith also knows Bell on a personal level and commented on how she took the activism for peoples’ rights outside the classroom.

“I was really proud of her for continuing the action that we started,” Smith said. “Morgan made it more than just a class and a degree.”

Bell had no idea that she had such an interest in gender studies until she took Smith’s class.

“And then I get here and I said, ‘I gotta do something’,” Bell said. “I can’t just sit and watch everybody get hurt and I don’t know, what if that was my family? What if that was someone close to me?”

Planning for the community

“I lived in Northside of Cincinnati… over the summer. It was really awesome like seeing the community and how they work together,” Bell said. “And that’s what the whole world should be like, just working together as a community. Like, ‘I can do this. Can I have some cherries out of your backyard? Okay!’”

Bell is community-oriented and driven.

“I see her not only planning events like the die-in…but also participating as an ally in other events,” Meyer said. “Which is really important.”

Because of her involvement and commitment to helping the community, Bell has won the social justice award through African American Programs and Services and she has been accepted in the National Association for Student Affairs Professionals, according to Meyer. Bell was accepted into their mentorship program and Meyer as her mentor.

Bell said she is interested in helping trans issues and bringing them to light, but she has mentioned that social issues are “people issues” and not necessarily specific to one group,. being an ally for people is important to her.

“The ones who are like not necessarily afraid to speak up, but don’t have the drive to speak up,” Bell said. “That I would be willing to speak up for them.”