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VOL. 126 | NO. 167 | Friday, August 26, 2011

Macon Attributes Success To Civil Rights Struggle

By Houston Cofield

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Born in the early 1970s, Danita Macon, director of data administration at the University of Memphis, is a product of the civil rights movement.


(Photo: Lance Murphey)

Her grandmother, Lorece Gatewood, and her parents, John and Pamela Macon, are a living reminder to Macon of the rights for which they fought. Macon’s recollection of the challenges her family faced during the 1960s continue to inspire her to succeed.

“All my work has been motivated by previous generations’ experiences, and I think it definitely has to do with family and the hardships they faced,” Macon said.

Macon knew at an early age she wanted to work with technology.

“I knew I wanted to be a systems analyst even in high school, but the problem was by the time I was 24 I had already achieved that, and I was asking myself, ‘So now what do I do?’” Macon said.

She graduated from the U of M and worked in the private industry for 10 years. Then, in 2001, Macon decided to take a job in the U of M’s information technology department, where she now manages the team that provides email and disaster recovery for the campus.

“I needed a change of pace so I came here, and things just lined up perfectly,” Macon said, adding she can’t think of anything more special than working for her alma mater.

After being with the university for 10 years, Macon has been nominated by her peers to participate in the Maxine Smith Fellows Program, created to train top African-American administrators employed at Tennessee Board of Regents institutions.

“It’s a constant reminder of the rights we have received because of the hard work they did in the movement. I always knew I wanted to do something to make my grandmother proud.”

–Danita Macon
Director of data administration, University of Memphis

The program was named after Maxine Smith, a longtime civil rights activist and 47-year member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“To be able to work at the university where Maxine Smith was denied admission here years ago, and to be able to get my degree here and now be apart of the fellows program, is pretty incredible,” Macon said.

Both her parents and her grandmother were active in the civil rights movement, with both her parents marching in rallies in Memphis, she said.

“It’s a constant reminder of the rights we have received because of the hard work they did in the movement,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to do something to make my grandmother proud.”

Along with her work at the U of M, Macon serves on the board of Planned Parenthood, is the assistant secretary at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church and an alumna of the Leadership Foundation.

Macon enjoys her job providing email and disaster recovery, but she is also fascinated by how technology is being applied in different ways today.

Macon said she is an exercise fanatic and music lover. She also enjoys watching her niece, Brittni, and nephews, Marshall and Kolby, play sports.

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