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Black History Today: Roxanne Christian-Dancer — a Brilliant Reminder of What’s Possible

by Marcus Harden

(Black History Today is published in collaboration with Rise Up for Students.)

“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘Jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.” — Zora Neale Hurston (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942) 

I’ve heard it said that we aren’t humans on a spiritual journey, but we are spirits having a human experience. In life you encounter people who seem like they’ve “been here before” because of their vast knowledge and understanding of the world — who are well traveled in the physical, mental and spiritual spaces.

Roxanne Christian-Dancer is one of those people who has been here before. Born in Columbus, Georgia, and raised by her angelic and equally ambitious mother, Ms. Rolaina, who embedded the spirit of discovery in her, Roxanne is truly a renaissance woman. Her latter formative years were spent in Seattle, where she graduated from Ingraham High School and later the University of Washington.

Yet those are the more subtle parts of Roxanne’s journey. Outside of the lines is where she colors. The color blue, for her love and service through Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., as a trailblazer while an undergraduate or a leader as a graduate member, committed to service and the uplifting of Black women.

It could be through the color green — through her years of experience in philanthropy and fundraising development with UW and in her current role as chief advancement officer for the Alliance for Education, Roxanne always uses her gifts to increase the gifts of others.

Maybe it’s the color white that emotes the purity of her two beautiful children and her adoring husband. If you know Roxanne, you know she values creating familial experiences that show her love, be it through decor, game night, traveling, food from around the world (lasagna rolls for the win!), or her world-famous “red-in-the-face” adult beverages.

It could quite possibly be the color purple, as she explores other facets of her creativity in her newest venture, LUX MEDi RX, where her service is taking the form of wellness rituals and products, helping people experience a better life.

If you know Roxanne, you know she is all of these things and so much more. I can speak personally to her level of care — she gives better gifts to my mother than I do! She is a critical and yet trusted friend to all. She motivates you through her drive, zest, and zeal for life. 

Roxanne is what Steve Jobs once quipped about: 

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes … the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules … You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things … they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.” 

Roxanne is the full spectrum — a brilliant reminder of what’s possible. She brings glory to every day and a flash of color to every experience, and she shines so brightly that it inspires the rest of us to glow a little brighter ourselves. Because of all that she is and all she has created in the world, Roxanne Christian-Dancer is Black History Today!

Marcus Harden is the creator of Black History Today, an annual series honoring Black History Month that pays tribute to the living legacy of Black history in our community and beyond. He is a seasoned educator with experience as a teacher, counselor, dean, administrator, and program and policy manager. Marcus focuses his work on creating better culture and climate for students, families, and staff. He believes deeply in restorative justice practices and in mindset and resiliency work that leads to excellent and equitable educational outcomes for all students.

Featured illustration by Devin Chicras for the Emerald.

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