Black History Month - February 2022

“Black history isn’t a separate history. This is all of our history, this is American history, and we need to understand that.” Karyn Parsons, writer and actor.

This statement captures the importance, value, and opportunities Black History Month presents as Eastern Michigan University formally begins our celebration.       

Eastern Michigan University’s theme for Black History Month is: “Celebrating Black History 365 Days a Year.”

I am proud to acknowledge the many people in our community who are developing programming to explore and educate people about the tremendous contributions made to our University and to our society by African Americans. At the same time, we must speak strongly and in a united voice about the significant challenges facing our community and nation in combating racism in its many forms. Many of the programs over the next month will address these deep divisions and the work that must continue.

All of the events are virtual, which makes it easy to participate. Among the programs that are planned include:

  • From Black Power to Black Lives Matter in Detroit,” presented by the Department of Africology and African American Studies. The program features an intergenerational conversation on the legacies of the Black Power Movement in Detroit and its lessons for the Black Lives Matter movement today. Speakers include: Rev. Dr. JoAnn Watson, former Detroit City Council Member; Rev. Prof. Charles Simmons, Hush House Black Community Museum and Leadership Training Institute for Human Rights; Lloyd Simpson, Detroit Will Breathe; and, Nicole Brown, Mayor Pro Tempore of Ypsilanti (Thursday, Feb. 3);

  • “I Too, Hear America Singing: A Poetry Writing Workshop,” presented by YpsiWrites/Office of Campus and Community Writing. Poet and Part-Time Lecturer David Boeving explores how poetry can help writers of all skill levels unpack and reconsider personal experiences and moments in history (Saturday, Feb. 5);

  • “Black Excellence: Black Student Entrepreneurship Talk,” presented by the Center of Race and Ethnicity, Vision, and Campus Life. EMU alumna and entrepreneur Talia Edgar leads a discussion about the importance of entrepreneurship in the Black community (Thursday, Feb. 10);

  • “Black Excellence: Professionalism in Black,” presented by the Center of Race and Ethnicity, Vision, and Campus Life. EMU’s NAACP chapter and Dr. Rema Reynolds lead a workshop focused on professional development about embracing blackness in the workplace (Tuesday, Feb. 15);

  • “It All Seemed so Far Away Then, or The Future is Black Women,” presented by YpsiWrites/Office of Campus and Community Writing. Discussion and writing session led by Dr. Toni Pressley-Sanon (Saturday, Feb. 19); and,

  • “Keynote speaker Dr. Frank Leon Reynolds,” presented by the Center of Race and Ethnicity, Vision, and Campus Life. The social activist and NYU professor of the nation’s first Black Lives Matter course leads an engaging and interactive discussion (Thursday, Feb. 24).

The events listed above represent just some of the virtual events that are planned. Please visit the University’s Black History Month webpage to view the full list of events and to register (in some cases dates and registration details are still being finalized, please monitor the site for updates). Additionally, please follow the University’s social media channels for an extensive series of profiles and live interviews throughout the month with University leaders and alumni about what Black History Month means to them. Finally, please continue to check your University email this month for additional updates and announcements.

The University’s programming of Black History Month is testament to our core value of inclusiveness – “We create an environment that supports, represents, embraces, and engages members of diverse groups and identities.” As we honor past and present achievements by African Americans, I encourage you to learn something new you didn’t know before and to celebrate how these contributions continue to revolutionize American society.

Please join me in thanking the organizers and presenters for their fine work in planning these insightful and informative events. I hope to see you, virtually, as we reflect and honor Black History Month: Celebrating Black History 365 Days a Year.

James Smith, Ph.D.