Welcome to the 2024 version of Western Carolina University’s “The Black Fantastic.” This is a series that began in 2022 when the University Communications and Marketing team wanted to find a way to highlight excellence among a few of WCU’s Black faculty and staff members. The award-winning project has been so well-received that we decided to center this year’s version around some of WCU’s outstanding African American students.
Armani Blair has run track for as long as she can remember. She inherited the passion of running from her mother, Jamicka Abraham, who also ran track.
But Blair, a junior from Charlotte and a member of Western Carolina University’s women’s track and field team, will be the first to tell you she’s not your average track athlete. Track is not at the forefront of her life. For Blair, a double major in political science and sociology, it’s grades first.
“That’s my biggest stress is trying to get good grades because my parents are really on me,” Blair said.
Don’t get her wrong, she still loves track. In fact, Blair was ecstatic when she ran the 60-meter dash in December at Clemson. It was her first meet since tearing her ACL in February 2023.
Prior to her injury, Blair was primarily a long jumper. She now participates in the 60-meter and 200-meter sprints indoors and 100 and 200 meters outdoors.
“It’s been a long road of healing and recovering, but I’m finally back and I’m very happy about it,” Blair said. “I’m still nervous to jump. Running my first track meet in December and doing well, I was excited about that. I didn’t think I would come back as strong as I did. My confidence level was very low, but now I’m getting back into the groove of things.”
For a lot of college athletes, their teammates are their community. However, Blair is very conscious of not letting the sport define her. She spends a lot of her time with classmates in political science and sociology, as well as her Sigma Gamma Rho sorority sisters.
Becoming a Sigma Gamma Rho member in 2023 was a top priority for Blair. Her family has a lot of Greek life members, although most of the women are Delta Sigma Theta’s.
“It was a major thing in my family,” Blair said. “We have SGRho’s, but it’s not a bunch of us. When I crossed, everybody was like, ‘Why?’ I knew I wanted to be an SGRho at a young age just based on the community service. The greater people around me are SGRho’s. My aunt in Ghana is president of the SGRho’s there and she helped me with the process. I’m glad I had her.”
Participating in community service has always been a big part of Blair’s life. It was instilled in her by her grandmother, as well as being a part of her A.M.E. Zion church.
“I love my church,” she said. “It’s a lot of service and a lot of people who are willing to help, no matter what the circumstances are. My grandmother put that on us early. I kind of stuck with it. It’s a true passion.”
While at WCU, Blair has volunteered at the Community Garden. As part of her internship last summer, Blair worked for the nonprofit For The Struggle in Charlotte, whose mission is to fight systemic issues of racial and social injustice by responding to issues identified by Black communities, advocating with and on behalf of such communities.
Upon graduation, Blair, who’s family is in the process of moving to Atlanta, plans to attend either Georgia State or Georgia Tech for graduate school for public administration. Her end goal is to work for the FBI as a community engagement specialist.
In her free time, Blair enjoys making videos. Her topics currently center around school and track.
“My mom wants me to be more vulnerable, which I’m not comfortable with,” she said. “I’ve been talking about my experience here. I did one talking about getting out of your shell.
“I would like to find another leadership role on campus so I can expand myself, maybe something like (the Student Government Association), to show people that someone like me, at this school, can do great things.”